The grounds of a Cork city GAA club have been rezoned for housing against the advice of city officials and despite warnings from the Green Party that it was “terrible planning” and would create “a cash cow for the GAA”.
On a night of several contentious rezonings for the city, land in a flood risk area was earmarked for likely use as a car park and two parcels of land in Hollyhill/Nash’s Boreen, which were zoned open public space, have also been rezoned for residential, institutions, and community use — again, against the advice of officials.
Councillors also voted 20-10 to increase allowed office space on Jacob's Island from 15,000 to 20,000sq ft despite warnings that intensification of employment uses here could impact on traffic congestion in Mahon and on the N40 South Ring Road.
The rezoning votes were taken during a special meeting of Cork City Council which considered almost 470 proposed material amendments to the draft city development plan 2022-2028.
Most of the amendments were agreed upon between city officials and councillors and were approved without a vote.
Twenty-one were not recommended by officials. The Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR) had also raised concerns about 19 rezonings — 16 of which were in the north-east ward alone.
Those disputed rezonings were each the subject of detailed debate during the lengthy council meeting.
Councillors vote 24-7 to rezone lands at Inchisarsfield, home to Douglas GAA club, from public open space and sports ground to new residential neighbourhoods and sports grounds.
An Rabharta Glas councillor Lorna Bogue warned it would create a “cash cow for the GAA” while Green Party councillor Dan Boyle described the move as “bad planning” that could open the door to sweetheart deals.
He praised the club for doing valuable work in the area but said there should be another way, not linked to land rezoning decisions, for the club to expand or develop.
“It may have a good social purpose but it is terrible planning,” he said.
Fianna Fáil councillor Terry Shannon said the club is landlocked and the council is in the business of providing facilities for clubs.
“Are we really going to tell the GAA in Douglas, 'Tough luck, find finance elsewhere?' I’m not going to do that. This is a zoning issue, not a planning issue,” he said.
In one vote, the Lord Mayor’s casting vote led to the removal of the landscape preservation zoning from land around historic Hyde Park House in Montenotte to allow a higher density of housing on the site, against the advice of city officials.
Councillors voted 21-10 to retain the preservation zoning on part of the nearby Clifton Convalescent Home site, where planning has already been granted for a number of homes.
They voted 16-14 to rezone an area of land south of the Fox and Hounds pub in Ballyvolane, from public open space to ‘district centre’ despite warnings from officials that it is in a flood zone and would impact the integrity of the Glen river valley.
They also agreed to several technical amendments to various zonings of landbanks at Stoneview and Ringwood near Blarney to better phase the long-term delivery of development there.
Once the city development plan takes effect in August, the planning regulator will consider how its recommendations have been addressed by the local authority, before deciding on its next steps.