City councillors voted last night to adopt the draft Mahon local area plan, which proposes more development on the peninsula despite its chronic traffic problems.
The plan says the area can accommodate a population increase of 7,000 and can handle 2,850 new residential units and 8,000 new workers.
This is despite National Road Authority concerns that extra travel demand on the N40 South Link Road results in unacceptable levels of congestion or queuing at the Mahon interchange.
Last night’s decision to adopt the draft plan came after more than an hour of debate and votes on several amendments, including a decision by councillors to allow for employment and business technology uses of up to 15,000 sq m on Jacob’s Islands.
This vote came despite a recommendation from traffic experts that office development should be concentrated in the central Mahon area, and that allowing office development on Jacob’s Island would make traffic in the area worse.
City manager Tim Lucey said massive investment in public transport infrastructure would be critical if the area was to survive during the lifetime of the plan, which sets out, in its first phase, to increase employment levels to 12,000 people by 2021.
He said existing planning permissions would deliver that target but he expressed concerns about granting further permission for the 15,000 sq m of office space on Jacob’s Island later in the plan because of how it could affect the city centre.
He said a public transport plan for the area proposes a rapid bus transit system serving the central Mahon area 15 times an hour, and three bus routes serving the area six times an hour.
The transport plan only provides for one bus route with six rotations an hour serving Jacob’s Island.
Mr Lucey said new office development on Jacob’s Island would increase the cost of delivering a public transport system to the area which may not even be funded by the National Transport Authority.
The draft plan took two years to complete and covers a vast area, just off the N40 South Link Road and close to the Jack Lynch Tunnel.
Mahon is home to one of Ireland’s largest shopping centres, a massive retail park, the National Software Centre, the CSO headquarters, the Mater Private Hospital, and several hi-tech software companies.
The residential area of Jacob’s Island is located just across the N40 where chronic traffic jams are a problem at peak hours.
Once the plan is advertised, the public will have up to eight weeks to examine it and offer feedback before the final plan is adopted.