Developer Michael O’Flynn calls for unified local authority in Cork

Development will stagnate while proposed city boundary extension is implemented, says O’Flynn.

Developer Michael O’Flynn calls for unified local authority in Cork

One of the country’s leading developers says he fears Cork will stagnate while the city’s proposed boundary extension is implemented and the only solution for sustained growth lies in the creation of one unified local authority.

Developer Michael O’Flynn made his comments at a county council Planning Policy SPC (Special Purposes Committee) meeting held behind closed doors in County Hall earlier this week and some county councillors have backed his stance.

Mr O’Flynn reiterated his views when contacted by Irish Examiner.

He said he anticipated that the McKinnon report would recommend the expansion of the city boundary, but not to the extent it did.

The report recommends the city council’s boundary is expanded to include Ballincollig, Blarney, Glanmire, Little Island, Carrigtwohill and Cork Airport — all areas with a high rates base.

“I can’t see how the city (council) could service such a structure. I favour an overall local authority. I don’t want to see one weakened by the other,” Mr O’Flynn said.

He said he is concerned that if the Government presses ahead with the reforms outlined in the report the implementation, be it in 2019 or 2014, will not be easy to carry out and will lead in the interim to stagnation of development.

“I would be fearful of this in the short to medium term. This is happening at a time when Cork has fallen behind the Greater Dublin area and we don’t want to fall even further behind.

“The Cork region needs to work together as a whole. I can’t see how the region can hold its own with this indecision (surrounding the McKinnon report implementation),” the developer added.

Cllr Michael Hegarty, who is chairman of the county council’s Planning Policy SPC, said he was also concerned about a possible stagnation of development.

“I have serious reservations about this report. The big worry is that there will be prolonged stagnation of development. Are we (the county council) going to invest in areas now where we might have no jurisdiction in the coming years? If we have to take out loans for development who is going to pay them back?” Cllr Hegarty said.

“My preference would be for one super council rather than have this report implemented. We have put an amount of investment into forward planning and is that now all going to go to waste?”

Cllr Hegarty said that when he’s abroad on county council delegations he always promotes the whole Cork region. “That’s why I think there should be one (local) authority governing the region,” he said.

Cllr Marcia D’Alton, an environmental engineer who is also a member of the county council’s Planning Policy SPC, said she also agreed with Mr O’Flynn and Cllr Hegarty.

“Everyone wants to see a vibrant city, thriving businesses, taxes rewarded with well-executed services and a reasonable quality of life.

“McKinnon’s recommendations are for a 35 kilometre-wide city giving annual financial donations to its adjacent county with democratic planning decisions for both overlaid by a new metropolitan authority.

“Will this deliver a shinny new-look, investment-rich Cork? As a county resident who grew up in the city, frankly, I don’t think so,” Cllr D’Alton said.

“I don’t see any other option but a one local authority concept, because what’s promised with the McKinnon report will be a complete fiasco,” she added.

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