Cork County Council has been given more time to outline why its councillors and officials support a proposed €100m retail development, which the country’s planning watchdog has objected to.
The Irish Examiner understands that Council officials were already in the process of preparing a case in support of the Kildare Village-type development in East Cork. But they needed the agreement of councillors to send such a report to Damien English, the minister for state for housing and urban development, who will have the final say on whether it will proceed or not.
A special statutory meeting had been called yesterday to have councillors discuss the matter, but it was postponed after Mr English’s department gave them a further period of grace because of current Covid-19 measures. The council has been allowed postpone the delivery of its report until April 20, although this could be extended again in coming weeks if the Covid-19 outbreak hasn’t eased by then.
In February a majority of the county councillors voted to vary the county development plan to provide strategic planning policy support for the provision the massive retail unit in Carrigtwohill.
Both the council’s chief executive, Tim Lucey, and director of planning, Michael Lynch, had strongly recommended the move.
However, a few days later the national planning watchdog, the Office of the Planning Regulator, wrote to Mr English saying the county development plan should not have been changed as this was premature prior to the development of a joint city and county plan on shopping centres that is being devised by both local authorities.
Last November, British-based consortium Rioja Estates announced it was planning to create a “tourist outlet village” close to the IDA industrial estate at Killacloyne, Carrigtwohill. The company said it would create 850 jobs and a further 640 during construction. It maintained there is room for another Kildare Village-style outlet in Ireland and that the East Cork area is an ideal location.
Councillor Anthony Barry, who lives in Carrigtwohill, said that while he would like to see the development proceed there, it doesn’t matter where it is built provided it is in the Cork Metropolitan Area:
There are people from all over Cork, Waterford, Kerry and Tipperary who are travelling to Kildare to shop in their outlet. These are people who would rather come to a similar outlet in Co Cork.