Councillors lobbied to review zoning of land in Cork

Cork county councillors have been lobbied by a developer to review the zoning of a parcel of land on the city’s outskirts to pave the way for the first phase of a multimillion-euro science park.

Councillors lobbied to review zoning of land in Cork

Tom McCarthy of development company Soltaz Ltd has also sought amendments to the council’s framework masterplan for the proposed 100-hectare Cork Science and Innovation Park, which is to be located to the south of Cork Institute of Technology.

The move comes following An Bord Pleanála’s decision last September to refuse planning permission to Soltaz Ltd, which had applied to construct a 17,000sq m office block with a café/ restaurant on a three-hectare site at Curraheen, Bishopstown.

In refusing permission to the development, An Bord Pleanála said that the proposed floor space of the building exceeded what was planned under the science park’s masterplan.

It also said that a “lack of clarity in respect of the nature of the proposed uses” would not comply with the master plan. The latest releases from Standards in Public Office’s Register of Lobbying shows three entries dated from September to December 2015 in which Mr McCarthy, a director of Soltaz, met councillors from the Ballincollig-Carrigaline electoral area.

According to the register, Mr McCarthy met councillors John Collins, Marcia D’Alton, Mary Rose Desmond, Deirdre Forde, Joe Harris, Seamus McGrath, Michael Murphy, Daithí O’Donnabháin, and Donnchadh O’Laoghaire.

The stated intended outcome of these meetings was to seek amendments to the masterplan and Carrigaline Local Area Plan to resolve the issues identified by An Bord Pleanála.

Fianna Fáil councillor O’Donnabháin, chairman of the Ballincollig-Carrigaline Municipal District, said the district committee has sought clarification on the situation from the council.

He said there are concerns that the council’s master-plan is too proscriptive, and that local employer EMC’s decision to open offices in Mahon caused concern at a time when efforts are being made to deliver a location that would provide space in the Ballincollig and Bishopstown area. Mr O’Donnabháin said the only other comparable science park in Ireland is in Belfast, where established multinationals sit side by side with start-ups.

The land at Curraheen is home to Bishopstown Stadium, where Cork City Women’s Football Club plays its home games. The site is also used as a training ground for Cork City FC and a home ground for the club’s underage teams.

Cork City moved to Bishopstown in the 1990s after the GAA bought its former home ground, Flower Lodge, from the Order of Hibernians and turned it into Pairc Uí Rinn. The FAI subsequently bought the ground from the club’s owner before selling the site to Mr McCarthy in 2005.

The club is set to move its training base to a €10m FAI centre of excellence in Glanmire. However, the proposed centre has seen scores of objections lodged with Cork County Council from residents and the Glanmire Area Community Association.

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From florist to fraudster, leaving a trail of destruction from North Cork, to Waterford, to Clare, to Wexford and through the midlands ... learn how mistress of re-invention, Catherine O'Brien, scammed her way around rural Ireland.

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