Another 61k people, 30k homes, and 36.5k jobs as county plans for growth

Cork County Council has unveiled an ambitious draft plan for the future of the county's towns, villages, and rural areas up to 2028
Another 61k people, 30k homes, and 36.5k jobs as county plans for growth

In south Cork, key towns such as Carrigaline have been earmarked for significant population growths. Photo: Denis Minihane

Cork County Council has unveiled its ambitious draft plan for the future of the county up to 2028. 

The plan provides a vision for towns, villages and rural areas across the county over the next seven years or so. 

It provides for a population growth of 61,000 people and the delivery of almost 30,000 housing units across the county. 

The plan also sets out to deliver employment-led growth by delivering 36,500 jobs in rural and urban areas with more than 2,000ha of employment lands identified in the region.

In south Cork, key towns such as Carrigaline, Carrigtwohill, Cobh and Midleton have been earmarked for significant population growths, with increased housing units to be delivered to accommodate this growth. 

The Council highlighted the importance of urban expansion areas within the towns, and ensuring that much of the projected development is delivered within the built footprint with a particular focus on regeneration and addressing under-utilised space.

In parts of West and South Cork, such as Bandon and Kinsale, the council highlighted the importance of continuing to support tourism in the area. 

The importance of pedestrian-friendly infrastructure in Kinsale was emphasised while the council also highlighted the need for a tourism strategy in Bandon to take advantage of tourism travelling to and from West Cork.

Key villages in both South and West Cork have also been earmarked for population and housing growth as well as economic development in the Council’s plan.

In the second part of his series, Darragh Birmingham looks at Cobh, Carrigaline, Bantry and Mitchelstown.


Photo: Andy Gibson
Photo: Andy Gibson

Population: Bantry has been allocated a population target of 4,133 representing growth of 1,476 since 2016.

Housing: In order to accommodate this growth, an additional 554 net new dwelling units will be required. Of the 554 new housing units to be provided over the plan period, 467 housing units can be delivered on residentially zoned land and the balance of 87 units can be delivered within the built footprint of the town. There is provision for a residential net land supply of approximately 31 hectares.

Urban Design: The development of Bantry town presents a number of challenges, but there are also many opportunities. There should be a renewed focus on the potential of more centrally located sites and opportunities presented through the regeneration of under-utilised sites. The delivery of flood protection and culvert upgrades could provide opportunities for further public realm projects in the town. The council is currently progressing a number of public realm improvements through the Destinations Towns Project, which will see the enhancement of public seating, street furniture, paving, signage, and other measures. The Southern Inner Harbour Site overlooking Bantry Bay is identified as one site in need of regeneration. Any development on this site should be of a very high standard contemporary architectural design, given the visual sensitivity of the site, its prominent location, and setting overlooking the harbour.

Employment and Economy: The plan recognises the enhanced role to be played by Bantry in the provision of employment. The overall employment strategy for Bantry is to focus on local catchment employment and an infrastructure programme to service land supply identified for future employment development focused on medium to small businesses. There are five sites zoned for business use and one site for industrial use in Bantry, with the majority of this land still available for development. There is office space potential both in the town centre and on the outskirts, as well as the potential for retail warehousing in sites of business use.

Town Centre and Retail: Substantial environmental improvements such as pedestrianisation, streetscape improvements and the prioritisation of pedestrians and cyclists over traffic in Bantry’s town centre should be a focus. However, this would depend on the delivery of the relief road as well as off-street parking in the area. The council recently received submissions on the topic of Bantry’s town centre which could see the provision of a new street/indoor market and the redevelopment of the historic laneways of the town and old cinema site. The harbour redevelopment will be an important catalyst for the town. 

Tourism: The council said it hopes to work with the owners of Bantry House, a key tourism attraction in the area, to increase the attractiveness of the house and its setting.

Social and Community Development: The range of educational, sporting and community facilities in Bantry should be expanded in the coming years. New schools are to be provided while the development of further active recreation is supported. A site has been identified to provide an additional 16 classroom primary school on the basis of population and household growth envisaged over the plan period. There are designated substantial areas of open space for active and informal public recreation, which will seek to place greater emphasis on the development of new pedestrian walks, cycleways and connections with open space areas and the town centre.


Photo: Denis Minihane
Photo: Denis Minihane

Population: A population target of 20,501 for Carrigaline represents growth of 4,731 people on Census 2016 figures.

Housing: It was identified that an additional 1,944 housing units would be required for the period 2020-2028 of which 1,458 housing units would be delivered on residentially zoned land and the balance of 486 delivered within the built footprint of the town.  A master plan for the site to the south of the Shannonpark roundabout estimated there is potential for around 1,000 houses. 

Phase 1 of the plan saw the delivery of more than 300 houses. The Council stated that Phase 2 will provide approximately 500 and Phase 3 upwards of 200 houses. The council also highlighted the Fernhill urban expansion area to the east of Carrigaline, which it said will be vital in providing developable residential land supply.

Urban Design: The Carrigaline Transportation and Public Realm Enhancement Plan (TPREP), which aims to deliver a robust transportation strategy to facilitate future sustainable development, should be completed by Q3 this year.

Delivery of the western relief road will occur during the lifetime of this plan. An engineering consultant has been appointed to carry out the preliminary design of a proposed pedestrian and cycle bridge over the Owenabue River which would link with the Crosshaven cycleway. The Council said it hopes to see planning permission applied for in Q3 this year. A consultant was also recently appointed to outline a design for a pedestrian and cycle route between Carrigaline and both Ringaskiddy and Passage.

Employment and Economy: The old pottery site is highlighted as a potential regeneration site, where there is potential to develop a mixed-use retail and living site. There are possible opportunity sites on the former pitch and putt course at the Kilmoney site, and at the junction of Cork Rd and Ballea Rd.

Town Centre and Retail: A new vision for Carrigaline’s town centre must be realised during the lifetime of this plan to cater for projected population and employment growth. Included in the vision will be the regeneration of under-utilised and disused buildings and spaces. The vision will also consider the potential impact of the delivery of the Carrigaline western relief road, the council added. 

The plan proposed new pedestrian links and a pedestrian bridge between Main St and the edge of town anchor stores. It also highlighted the need to focus future expansion close to the main street. Further town centre enhancement measures will be delivered on completion of the western relief road, which should focus on providing a more pedestrian-friendly streetscape at the heart of the town.

Social and Community Development: The council added that it will support the provision of new and improved facilities for sports and recreation during the lifetime of the plan as the need arises. The council highlighted the need for a cultural and civic centre in the town, as well as increased arts and cultural facilities. The council also said it plans to support water-based recreation in the area, while protecting the wetland habitats.


Photo: Larry Cummins
Photo: Larry Cummins

Population: The strategy for Cobh provides for the population of the town to grow to 17,452.

Housing: An additional 1,604 housing units will be required with approximately 1,383 units delivered on residentially zoned land and the balance of 221 delivered within the built footprint of the town.

Urban Design: A significant public realm improvement project for Cobh is at design stage. The project will focus on six zones within the town including the heritage centre, train station, town park, town squares, cathedral quarter, the main streetscape, and east beach. The project will enhance pedestrian access, increase footfall, address traffic calming issues, and rebrand the town centre as a destination to stay longer in, while making Cobh an attractive place to live, work, and invest. 

There is a need for trees where appropriate in the public realm for both attractiveness and climate change reasons. There are three areas of potential regeneration in Cobh, including a large section of O’Rahilly St which the council stated would be suitable for a townhouse development.

Economy and Employment: Rushbrooke Dockyard is one of the largest employer areas in Cobh and the council highlighted the importance of retaining and developing the site. The site could play a role as a service hub for the offshore marine energy sector. Part of the site is also considered to be suitable for a park and ride facility to serve Rushbrooke Train Station. Development is possible at Marino Point, which is largely vacant and could be used for port-related industry. 

The greatest potential for economic and employment growth in Cobh lies in tourism. Cobh’s maritime setting and history, as well as nearby Spike Island, is vital, and an additional hotel and upgraded road access to the town could facilitate more tourism and employment in the area. The plan supports the Port of Cork’s decision to develop a second berth for cruise liners at Lynch’s Quay, as well as the provision of a Spike Island Ferry Terminal, retail services, cafe/restaurants and accommodation as well as the required parking and mooring facilities.

Town Centre and Retail: While the physical character of the town remains very strong, the town centre has declined economically. It is essential that the town centre is re-established as the retail and commercial focus and the potential offered by the waterfront is realised. Public realm improvement project will play a significant role in this effort. Residential uses also need to be encouraged, particularly within the town centre, to address population decline and to ensure vibrancy in the evening time.

Social and Community Development: The council stated that significant investment will be required to ensure community and social developments keep pace with population growth and demand in Cobh. The council highlighted the need for a new primary school at Ballynoe as well as additional recreational facilities in the area.

Meanwhile, a waterfront amenity walkway and cycleway from the western shore of Whitepoint to the eastern end of the Mall at Bishop Roche Park is also proposed in this plan. The council also highlighted the need for increased public seating in the town.


Photo: Maurice O'Mahony
Photo: Maurice O'Mahony

Population: The strategy for Mitchelstown provides for the population of the town to grow to 4,862, representing a growth of 1,122 people on Census 2016 figures.

Housing: In order to accommodate this level of growth, an additional 422 housing units will be required with 286 housing units delivered on residentially zoned land and the balance of 136 delivered within the built footprint of the town.

Urban Design: A number of potential regeneration sites in Mitchelstown have been idenitifed, including the current fire station site, which will be suitable for an infill residential development when the fire station relocates. The former convent site and the greenfield site connecting James St and Church St are also identified as areas of potential regeneration, while any development on the former convent site would be respectful of protected structures on the site.

Employment and Economy: The strategy for Mitchelstown focuses on developing it as a local catchment employment centre, with employment growth across a range of sectors to underpin population growth and broad employment beyond the food business and agricultural sector. There are existing and potential sites for development both to the north and west of the town. The strategic location of the town within Munster, with access to the M8 corridor and other national secondary and regional routes, makes the town attractive to distribution type uses. The expansion of this use at appropriate locations within the town will be encouraged.

While unemployment in Mitchelstown has declined significantly in recent years, recent research shows that more than half of the jobs in Mitchelstown are held by people living outside of the area. The provision of more local employment opportunities may help reduce the need to travel outside the area for work.

Tourism: The historic setting of Mitchelstown offers huge tourism potential, which should be promoted further as part of a wider north Cork tourism package.

Town Centre and Retail: A key objective for this plan is to support the retail role and identity of Mitchelstown and to improve the strength and vitality of the town centre by retaining Cork St as the centre of retail activity and increasing retail provision within the core area through the reuse or redevelopment of underutilised buildings. This plan also encourages office-based employment uses within the town centre area.

Social and Community Development: If realised, the planned population targets set for the town will require the provision of an additional primary school, and a site for this has been reserved in this plan. Population growth will also require additional recreational and cultural facilities. The council has plans to develop an amenity walk, while lands to the southeast of the town centre have been identified to provide amenity areas within walking distance of existing and proposed residential areas.

  • Tomorrow: Bandon, Kinsale, Macroom and Midleton

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