‘Crumbs from the table’ for county

An internal report carried out by Cork County Council paints a “devastating” blow to the local authority’s future growth and investment if the National Planning Framework (NPF) is implemented.

‘Crumbs from the table’ for county

Council officials said the NPF’s guidelines would likely mean they would be starved of investment in the coming years as major population increases are earmarked for Cork City and its suburbs.

Their analysis suggests that under the NPF, the population increase of the soon-to-be-reduced county council area will fall to 0.5% per annum between now and 2040, compared to 1.2% from 2006 to 2016.

The agreed expansion of the city boundary will reduce the county council’s current population from 417,211 to 335,211 and under the NPF guidelines it will only increase by 43,520 by 2040.

On the other hand, the city council’s population is expected to expand by around 115,000 during the same period.

Michael Lynch, the council’s senior planner, said if the NPF went ahead it was his concern that investment would follow population growth and, as a result, the county council’s area of jurisdiction could lose out significantly.

Mayor of County Cork, Declan Hurley, said that, like the city boundary extension, the council was being dictated to by people from outside Cork.

“It’s like kicking a man when he’s down,” he said.

County council chief executive Tim Lucey said major growth is projected in the NPF for metropolitan Cork, which was welcome, but the county council would be “facing significant challenges into the future”, if it was implemented.

Independent councillor Alan Coleman said that, in his 27 years on the county council, he “had never seen such a devastating report”.

“Investment in the future will be led by this plan,” said Mr Coleman.

“It’s unbelievable. We just won’t get investment. Our provincial towns like Carrigaline, Midleton, Bandon etc will end up stagnated. Cork city is now being asked to grow [its population] by 56% and you’ll just have more urban sprawl."

Fianna Fáil councillor Patrick Murphy said he hoped all councillors appreciated the huge significance of the report.

“All we’ll get are crumbs from the table,” he said, adding that it is worrying that, under the NPF, just 1,000 housing units would be built in the county council area each year.

Fine Gael councillor John Collins said the expansion of the city had already undermined the county.

“We will be left with inadequate infrastructure,” he said. “We will be left high and dry in terms of the investment we will need in the county. This undermines the future of us as an independent authority.”

Fianna Fáil councillor Gillian Coughlan said she was “shocked” at the projected growth rate and any allocations coming from the Government in the coming years were likely “to be paltry”.

Mr Lucey said the county council would have to raise awareness of the significance the NPF would have for his local authority as there was considerable capacity in a number of towns for future growth.

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