Residents opposed to the route of a proposed 2.2km section of greenway — a key link in the Lee to Sea scheme — have accused Cork County Council of trying to ram the project through their community.
The residents of several estates in Carrigaline have now called on county councillors to listen to their concerns, and vote against granting Part 8 planning permission for the greenway, which is part of the first phase of a wider €30m investment in public and active transport, and a new public realm in Carrigaline.
It is the latest active transport project in Cork to face stiff local opposition. Two bike lane projects in Ballincollig were delayed this month after local objections.
Details of the ambitious Carrigaline Transportation Public Realm Enhancement Plan (TPREP) were unveiled for public consultation in May 2021.
The €30m project, funded by the National Transport Authority (NTA) under Project Ireland 2040, was hailed as a potential gamechanger for the town, with plans to overhaul the town centre streetscape, and develop a high-quality and reliable sustainable travel network across the town.
The first phase, estimated to cost around €10m, focuses on public realm enhancements to Main Street, with plans for widened and continuous footways, improved walking and cycle infrastructure, new lighting, street furniture, and rain gardens, and some changes to traffic movement.
This phase also includes plans for a 2.2km pedestrian and cycle link in the town’s Bridgemount area, along part of a disused railway route, which will ultimately form a key link in the proposed Lee to Sea greenway, connecting Ballincollig, through Cork city to Passage West, and on to Carrigaline, and Crosshaven.
The proposed Bridgemount link starts immediately north of Carrigaline Community Special School, through Heatherfield Lawn, and Mulberry Lane, along the route of the disused railway corridor between Firgrove Mews and The Pines, terminating at the spine road at Heron’s Wood.
The council says the corridor has been zoned for the provision of this amenity facility since 1996.
However residents living in Janesville, Heron’s Wood, Heatherfield Lawn and Bridgemount say they have several concerns about the route, which the council has not taken on board.
“We are not against the broader proposals, we are not against the greenway concept. But we are against the route they have selected,” residents’ spokesman, Micheál O’Connor said.
Part of the proposed route was the focus of sustained anti-social behaviour in the late 1990s and early 2000s, with rowdy boozy parties at weekends.
Mr O’Connor said residents had to deal with rubbish and debris being regularly thrown into their gardens, and a tree on the route was torched. The council eventually moved to fence off the area in 2007.
“They now propose to open it up again. This 100m section is a secluded route," he said.
Some 220 submissions were received on phase one, including 33 which each contained a batch of around 10 signatures to a petition signed by 322 people objecting to the greenway route.
Residents proposed an alternative route, but Mr O’Connor said it appears as if none of their concerns have been listened to.
It is understood that officials have prepared a detailed 90-page report for councillors responding to the various submissions ahead of their vote on Monday on whether to approve the Part 8 planning or not.
It defends the level of public consultation, the engagement with residents, and the consideration by council of local concerns and of two alternative routes, which have been ruled out on technical and environmental grounds.
It also outlines a raft of mitigation measures that can be delivered to minimise the impact on local residents.
“The proposals will provide high-quality connectivity between the town centre and the residential estates of Carrigaline,” the report says.
"The proposed scheme will provide a safe environment for walking and cycling, improved accessibility and permeability, and a valuable facility for residents, school children, commuters, and leisure enthusiasts.”