Reply To: Look at de state of Cork, like!

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Last Saturday The Irish Examiner ran an article on a proposed 500m euro PPP Northern Loop/Ring road for Cork city. The proposed road would extend from the Ballincollig By-Pass Poulavane Roundabout – then continue on a 5km tunnel under the Lee Valley area resurfacing near Blarney – passed an interchange with the Mallow Dual-Carriageway linking up at the N8 intersection just north of Glanmire. This – combined with the Jack Lynch Tunnel and Southern Ring Road would create a full-loop dual-carriageway right around Cork city. Est.’d tunnel costs = 300m according to the article. Apparently plans have been lodged with the NRA – we’ll see. Although I welcome such progressive development news – is it really the right kind of progressive? I acknowledge Cork city traffic is desperately clogged on an almost continuous basis – but I’m still a firm believer in us investing in a better commuter and suburban rail system. We should be looking to remove cars from the streets full-stop – not just send them off in a different direction. Its a huge investment for a short-sighted solution.

Also, a full-page spread appeared today in the Irish Examiner (25th Oct 2004) condemning O’Callaghan Properties Jurys Hotel development. The author, Ms Leland, is a typical example of the archaic and downright backward mentalities that can exist in Corkonian and Irish minds. I completely agree that St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral is a stunning architectural monument – and I whole-heartedly and passionately campaign to see it protected visual, structurally etc etc – but the visual impact of the proposed development is excessively dramatised. How is it that an architectural disgrace such as Victoria (shudder) Mills gets through planning without a whiff and something, even praised architecturally by An Taisce (but not too much, they still found fault with something), is facing unfair critiscism? I remain sceptical about the viability of the project but I support it as a progressive and architecturally/aesthetcially sound addition to the Cork cityscape. God knows, we need more projects of increased standard in the city centre. I view St Fin Barre’s everyday from on high heading into the city – I have seen the EIS and the impact studies, and if anything, the development positively contributes to the city skyline. St. Fin Barre’s, yes, is mildly obstructed, but only to a certain point – it in no-way takes away from its grandesque, outstanding form. Its a symbol of Cork and I would never wish to see it damaged – the development really does not do that. Its tallest building (9 storeys) is a slim profile, glazed block which lowers then to a height no more obtrusive than nearby Sharman Crawford Hall’s clock-tower.

Another really irritating happening is that of the CAHRA (Community Anti High-Rise Association) – who, acting on Jackie Healy-Rae (of Kerry) & son’s advice, are seeking Section 140 intervention to over-ride any greenlighting for a project proposed by O’Shea Builders Ltd. on Farranlea Road (near Victoria Cross).

A number of issues arise here – first of all, the proposed 81-unit development is divided over a number of buildings, the tallest equalling 5-storeys. (Anti High-Rise???!!! Last time I checked 14 stories up just about qualifies as HIGH-rise.) Second, the residents want the development – just not now because they’re sick of construction activity in the area. Third, enacting Section 140 is a costly (to tax-payers) strategy (just ask Kerry County Council!) and has wide-reaching consequences (negative) if proceeded with. Furthermore, such a labourious process can very readily be overturned on appeal to ABP by the developer.

I’m completely respectful of residents objecting to a development on a relevant ground – it’s their democratic right. I’ve done it too when I believed it appropriate. But does anyone else see a problem with the above grounds adopted by CAHRA? 5 storeys (the area is already predominantly this height, with developments in Victoria Cross predominantly between 5 and 9 storeys)??? Anti High-Rise??? We want the develop, just not now??? We’ll waste tax-payers money on something that can easily be overturned??? Could the residents at the very least object as normal – and respect the decision of the LA. If they are displeased with the outcome, then approach ABP. Why undermine Local Government, rip-off the tax-payer and object against a project that doesn’t even qualify for grounds on which the objecting organisation is based? It’s a bad move for all concerned. If they’re grounds for objection are genuinely relevant and strong enough – this will be reflected in the planning decision.

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