Council chief executive supports Cork shopping village plans

Cork County Council's chief executive is to provide councillors with a robust account of why he and his senior planners believe it's right to support the construction of a €100m Kildare Village-style shopping centre in an East Cork town.
Council chief executive supports Cork shopping village plans

A €100 million Cork Tourist Outlet Village is proposed for the Carrigtwohill area.
A €100 million Cork Tourist Outlet Village is proposed for the Carrigtwohill area.

Cork County Council's chief executive is to provide councillors with a robust account of why he and his senior planners believe it's right to support the construction of a €100m Kildare Village-style shopping centre in an East Cork town.

The move comes after the watchdog Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR) stated that the Rioja Estates' plan for a Tourist Outlet Village (TOV) should not go ahead in Carrigtwohill.

A special meeting to hear chief executive Tim Lucey's summary of his and his executive's views on the Rioja Estates proposal is being held in County Hall on Friday morning.

It will be held in the public foyer, rather than the debating chamber, to allow safe social distancing for any of the 55 councillors attending.

Rioja Estates claims that 850 permanent jobs and a further 640 during construction are at stake, along with the potential for the TOV to attract 220,000 additional tourists to the region annually.

The British-based company maintains that the TOV will not have a detrimental impact on local shops.

It believes a proportion of the visitors will be cruise liner passengers from ships tying up at the deep water quay in Cobh.

The OPR made an objection to a proposal made by the council for a variation of the County Development Plan to allow Rioja Estates to lodge planning permission for the project.

A report seen by the Irish Examiner states that Mr Lucey will today say there is capacity for such a retail outlet in the Cork Metropolitan Area, which includes Carrigtwohill.

The report states: "It is considered the provision of such a facility of regional significance has the potential to deliver economic benefit to the metropolitan area, county and region by meeting an identified need, retaining spend that would otherwise be expended in the only retail outlet centre in the State (Kildare Village), and attracting new visitors to Cork and extending the stay of visitors that would have been attracted by existing tourism sites/products."

The vast majority of councillors are in favour of the plan.

When a vote was previously taken on varying the County Development Plan to facilitate the Rioja Estates planning application, 42 councillors voted in favour, while one abstained and four voted against.

Mr Lucey is expected to say the OPR view is fundamentally flawed as the project satisfies all statutory requirements; is in the interests of the proper planning and sustainable development of the area; and is not premature pending the making of an updated Joint Retail Strategy by Cork County Council and Cork City Council.

Mr Lucey will reaffirm that there is a justification for the TOV in the region and that it is justified to build it off the N25 at Carrigtwohill, close to the IDA estate in Killacloyne.

He will give councillors the opportunity to add their own views to a report he is compiling which will be sent by the local authority to Damian English, junior minister for Housing and Urban Development, as a response to the OPR stance.

Mr English will have the final say on whether Rioja Estates will get the chance to proceed to the planning stage.

Mr Lucey is expected to also point out that councillors may also make individual submissions on behalf of the project to Mr English.

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