Merger of Cork councils would be ‘hugely damaging’, warn top developers

Two of the country’s leading developers have warned that a merger of Cork city and county councils could cost jobs and investment and be “hugely damaging” for the future of the city.

Merger of Cork councils would be ‘hugely damaging’, warn top developers

Owen O’Callaghan of O’Callaghan Properties, and John Cleary of JCD, issued the stark warning as the Cork Local Government Review (CLGR) group, reviewing the case for a council merger or the first extension of the city boundary in 50 years, prepares to report to Government next month.

Although neither of the men made a submission to the CLGR group, they issued a joint statement last night saying: “In our view, the amalgamation of both local authorities will make it more difficult to access decisions and services quickly and to deliver major projects.

“It will affect how Cork City presents itself to a global audience including foreign direct investors who will have a reasonable expectation that if they decide to invest in Cork, that the city operates independently, cohesively and effectively as a clear entity in its own right.

“For Cork City to be reduced to a subdivision of Cork County Council, as articulated recently by former county mayor Tim Lombard, it would leave Cork City a long way from having a status as a ‘second city’ which is vital for the marketing of Cork.

“Any decision to reduce Cork City’s capacity to do that through a merging of both local authorities could cause irrevocable damage and ultimately cost investment and jobs.”

Both developers have several city projects in the pipeline. Mr O’Callaghan hopes to announce plans before the end of the year for the construction of 150,000 sq ft of offices at Anderson’s Quay, and another office development at Albert Quay.

Mr Cleary was recently granted planning permission for the €50m regeneration of the Capitol Cinema site in the city centre.

Both said an extended city boundary to include a metropolitan region of between 250,000 and 300,000 people would allow the city to compete at a global level as other second cities do.

However, developer Michael O’Flynn who made a detailed submission to the CLGR group, has argued for a single unified authority, saying it would have the status and ability to map out the county’s future and to engage with state bodies to deliver infrastructure for the entire county without internal competition.

Mr O’Callaghan and Mr Cleary issued their warning ahead of attending a major conference in London next month as part of a Cork City team seeking to attract foreign direct investment.

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