City and county: Amenities add to Cork's appeal as a place to work and live

Darragh Bermingham selects some of the attractions and amenities that add to Cork's appeal as a place to work and live
City and county: Amenities add to Cork's appeal as a place to work and live

Reflections on the River Lee at high tide on a calm morning in Cork city. Picture: Denis Minihane

Darragh Bermingham selects some of the attractions and amenities that add to Cork's appeal as a place to work and live.

A recent survey run by Cork City Council found that over 90% of participants rated Cork a ‘good’ to ‘excellent’ place to live.

With local development plans in place to accommodate population growth in the coming years, as well as housing developments, employment plans and the enhancement of local amenities, the aim is to build on this even further.

An early morning view along the southern quays in Cork city. Picture: Denis Minihane
An early morning view along the southern quays in Cork city. Picture: Denis Minihane

Cork City and County Councils recently unveiled their plans for their respective local authorities, setting ambitious targets in areas of housing, employment, transport, tourism and leisure.

Both Councils highlighted an already growing, vibrant community in Cork city and county, and the need to provide an alternative to Dublin by ensuring Cork is a livable city and county.

With that in mind, both development plans provide for significant population and jobs growth in the coming years, ensuring Cork city and county can be places to live and work for years to come.

Housing and Employment

In the first development plan since the expansion of Cork city, the City Council highlighted the importance of delivering on the national ambitions and growth targets for Cork City, which will seek to accommodate an additional 125,000 people by 2040.

This means housing on average an additional 6,250 people and creating over 3,750 jobs per year over the next 20 years.

The Council’s plan also highlighted the importance of developing a compact city with 50% of all new homes delivered within the existing built up footprint of the city, on regenerated brownfield, infill and greenfield sites.

The repaired and refurbished Daly's Bridge (Shakey Bridge) over the River Lee in Cork. Picture: Denis Minihane
The repaired and refurbished Daly's Bridge (Shakey Bridge) over the River Lee in Cork. Picture: Denis Minihane

In fact, a number of large and ambitious housing developments are already underway in the city, or are being lined up for planning applications.

In April this year, planners gave the green light for a transformative residential development that will see more than 1,000 apartments built on a prime docklands site in Cork city’s Marina Quarter.

In recent weeks, it was revealed that planning permission is being sought for the construction of over 200 apartments on a site adjacent to Telus International, formerly Voxpro, in Mahon.

Meanwhile, it was recently revealed that the first of 266 new homes which have been approved for the landmark St Kevin’s hospital site on the northside of Cork city should be available within two years.

Cork County Council’s development plan meanwhile provides a vision for towns, villages and rural areas across the county over the next seven years.

It is estimated that the population of Cork county in 2019 was around 332,015 with further growth expected in the period up to 2022.

The County Council’s plan provides for a population growth of 61,000 people across the county and the delivery of almost 30,000 housing units to cater for this.

Billy and Breda Noonan, Mardyke, with Minnie, Bessie and Fred out walking locally at the Lee Fields, Cork. Picture: Denis Minihane
Billy and Breda Noonan, Mardyke, with Minnie, Bessie and Fred out walking locally at the Lee Fields, Cork. Picture: Denis Minihane

The Council stated that this population growth and necessary housing units will be delivered across the whole of County Cork, at locations in county metropolitan Cork, the ring and county towns, key villages, villages and rural areas.

Employment was also a key part of both local authorities’ development plans, providing for tens of thousands of jobs across both Cork city and county, while also highlighting key areas of employment and investment.

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

The Council said it envisages some 18,000 of these jobs will be in the metropolitan area, 9,900 in the Greater Cork Ring area, 4,200 in the North Cork area, and 3,500 in the West Cork area.

The Cork Metropolitan Area Strategic Plan (MASP) seeks to strengthen the Cork Metropolitan area as an international location and a primary driver of economic and population growth in the region.

The MASP envisages a growth in employment of 65,000 extra jobs in the Cork Metropolitan Area.

In its development plan, the City Council stated that the MASP recognises that this level of growth will require “significant investment in supporting infrastructure to deliver the houses, jobs and services”.

Metropolitan Cork will continue to be the biggest jobs market in the county and development plan policies will continue to support the growth of employment in this area.

Carrigtwohill, Little Island, Ringaskiddy, and Whitegate were identified as strategic employment locations suitable for large-scale employment development, retaining their roles as locations for Foreign Direct Investment.

Avondhu senior footballers during team fitness testing at the indoor track in the Mardyke Arena, UCC.  Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Avondhu senior footballers during team fitness testing at the indoor track in the Mardyke Arena, UCC.  Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Transport

Recent and ongoing transport developments, as well as many more in the pipeline, mean it is an exciting time of change for movement in Cork city and county.

The pedestrianisation of streets, introduction of new greenways, the development of key new roads and a new BusConnects system, as well as the possibility of a light rail system, are just some of the developments underway or planned across the city and county.

 A drone picture of work in progress of the new Marina Park in Ballintemple, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan
A drone picture of work in progress of the new Marina Park in Ballintemple, Cork. Picture Dan Linehan

The aim of both Council’s, according to their plans, is to provide the people of Cork city and county, and those visiting, with a number of sustainable transport options.

In its development plan, Cork City Council highlighted the importance of the Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy (CMATS) 2040 which provides a basis on which to develop Cork city over the next 20 years.

CMATS envisaged a €3.5 billion investment plan with investment in cycling and walking infrastructure, a €1bn light-rail system running from Ballincollig to Mahon, and for investment in bus lanes through a BusConnects programme.

Relaxing in the evening sunshine at the opening of the (pre-Covid) Irish Examiner Food Festival at Fitzgerald's Park, Cork. Picture: Denis Minihane
Relaxing in the evening sunshine at the opening of the (pre-Covid) Irish Examiner Food Festival at Fitzgerald's Park, Cork. Picture: Denis Minihane

The City Council stated that the “development of cycle infrastructure and the delivery of infrastructure to enable substantial improvements in public transport are essential”.

It highlighted the importance of developing a sustainable transport system with a significant shift toward walking, cycling and public transport, and, where possible, enshrining this principle in all developments across the city.

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