Mayor calls TDs together to kick-start docklands plan

THE Lord Mayor of Cork has called a meeting of the city’s TDs as part of a new drive to secure Government funding for an €80 million bridge that will help kickstart the city’s docklands regeneration.

Cllr Mick O’Connell said he plans to bring all the city’s political representatives together in City Hall next week to discuss the issue with city manager Joe Gavin.

“I want to send a clear message to Dublin that funding is needed now,” Mr O’Connell said.

“There is no reason why this bridge can’t go forward now. We are in a position to move now and the amount of money involved is relatively small in the overall context of docklands.”

He made his comments after the city council agreed unanimously to call on Environment Minister John Gormley to release funding to build the proposed Eastern Gateway Bridge.

An Bord Pleanála gave planning permission for the swing bridge last April.

The proposed €80m 51-metre span bridge will cross the River Lee from Páirc Uí Chaoimh to the skew bridge on the Lower Glanmire Road.

Once built, it will be the largest of its kind in Europe.

The city applied for funding for its construction under the Gateway Innovation Fund, but the Government stalled new funding as the economy faltered.

The city is now seeking €2.5m to allow it proceed with the detailed design and public tendering process for the bridge’s construction.

Design consultants have already been selected and they can be appointed immediately.

Mr O’Connell said it will be the catalyst for docklands development.

“We need to see a clear commitment from Government to this,” he said.

“We will invite Minister Gormley to Cork to view for himself the work that has been done.

“If he’s unable to come, then I will a lead a delegation to Dublin to get the money.”

Cllr Tim Brosnan said such a down-river crossing is essential.

“The Jack Lynch Tunnel is swamped. We need a second crossing urgently and there is a strong case to make to Government for money for this,” he said.

Meanwhile, veteran Cllr Jim Corr has called on the Government to prioritise the relocation of the Port of Cork’s city centre activities following the rejection of plans for one of the major Cork docklands projects.

Origin Enterprises, a subsidiary of IAWS milling group, was cleared by city planners in May 2009 to demolish the landmark R&H Hall silos, on the southern docks at Kennedy Quay, and construct three buildings – one up to 10 storeys high.

The scheme included 26,000 square metres of office space with retail, bar, restaurant, and some 165 apartments.

Appeals were lodged to An Bord Pleanála by the Port of Cork Company, and Joseph Lane Holdings.

The planning inspector considered Origin’s project premature having regard to the lack of certainty about the relocation of the Port’s activities from the city quays, and incompatible with adjacent port activities on Kennedy Quay.

Mr Corr said the port relocation must now be “pursued and pursued quickly”.

“We have lost one major investor because of uncertainty about the Port of Cork relocation,” he said.

He urged city officials, port officials and the Department of Transport to sort out the issue.

“This is damaging our ability to gain investment in the docklands,” he said.

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