Re: My Vision: Cork 2020

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An interesting Breakfast Briefing held last Thursday in the Imperial Hotel by Hamilton Osbourne King, Cork – at which director Peter O’Meara outlined in his vision for Cork 2020 based on the statistics, trends and facts. He outlined an interesting and somewhat exciting view. In attendance were members of the CBA, Chamber of Commerce, City Council, Developers (incl. Owen O’Callaghan, Michael O’Flynn et al), Architects and other prominent figures in the development community in Cork.

Those this may be somewhat of a ‘utopian’ outline – this is how I would like to see Cork develop of the next 16 years, and how I think, with proper planning and investment, it could very well achieve. (Consider the fact that at a p.a. population growth rate of 65,000+, Ireland’s projected population will reach 5m by 2015).

CORK 2020

Metropolitan Cork
Cork city will be the commercial centre serving a catchment population of 600,000+, with 330,000 situated in the greater Cork city area. Planning restrictions as laid out in the former and current forms will have seen the city boundaries only extend enough to incorporate areas like Douglas, Rochestown, Curraheen, Little Island – Glanmire and Ballincollig[???] (effectively they are suburbs, but would Cork CoCo ever acknowledge this? Or are they too valuable income earners???). The city will have a series of large feeder towns such as Midelton, Macroom, Mallow, Kinsale, Bandon, Cobh – all served by an efficient City Commuter Rail Network, complimenting the newly established Intersububran Rail Network (CATS – Cork Area Transport System ~ something strategically and importantly needed, may even be worthy of a private investment). In addition to the aforementioned, Cork Airport, Blarney, Blackpool, the Docklands, Mahon Point, Bishopstown, Ballincollig and Carrigaline (via Grange/Frankfield & Black Ash) would all be served by rail.

The Commuter Towns may perhaps in some cases measure populations of up to 20,000 to 30,000 (in Ballincollig’s case, 42,000).

Commuter Cars will be significantly reduced, and perhaps, discouraged from travelling into the city.

A full ring-road loop would serve the Cork Metro region (in the form of the proposed Northern Ring Road linked to the N8 and N25). Some sporadic development along this motorway will inevitably form but will be highly restricted in the interest of protecting the scenic Cork Green Belt.

Cork City & Docklands

The city centre will finally be pedestrianised. City centre living will have become more popular in light of the increased amenity, safety and accommodation of the area. The increased national population brings Cork’s city centre population back on form. Developments providing more family-friendly sized apartment units (indicated by such developments as the Eglinton Street proposal by OFC [1,900sq ft 3-bedroom apartment ~ encouraging owner-occupiers] and Camden Court by OSB) with extensive communal gardens and play-areas, integrated creche facilities and so on.

As most office activities in the city centre will shift eastwards toward the southern Docklands area, South Mall will open up to pleasant boutique style retail units and some office retail. The street will become an ‘internal community’ of sorts. Retail space, even now in such high demand for city centre space, will be assisted by extensions of the CCRA at Grand Parade, Cornmarket Street, South Main Street, South Mall and Sullivans Quay/Georges Quay (plans are already kicking into effect at Grand Parade and Cornmarket Street). The city centre’s historical value will be protected, new buildings will be permitted, but remain no taller than 7 to 9 storeys at a max. Increased medical and residential facilities will be provided along Bachelor’s Quay/Henry Street/Grattan Street area. Pedestrianism will rule the day. Some prominent city centre walkways will have retractable canopies over main pathways to allow uninterupted pedestrian and bicycle journeys around the city centre even in poor weather. An extensive network of boardwalks will provide enhanced amenity value for residents and visitors alike. Increased public art should be promoted. Increased green areas (something Cork city centre highly lacks) will be promoted, perhaps, as suggested in areas such as the roof of existing multi-storey car-parks. The city centre core area will shift east slightly, over Parnell Place, Lower Oliver Plunkett Street (trust me, Howard Holdings knew what they were doing when the took on City Quarter). A Water-Bus network will be in effect linking the city centre with Ballincollig Town Centre, Victoria Cross, UCC, the Docklands office and university districts, Tivoli and so on.

The southern Docklands (Kennedy Quay), will become the new office district of Cork – the city must and hopefully will not simply promote itself as a prime office destination of Munster, or Ireland for that matter, but as Howard Holdings suggest, at an international level – not playing 2nd fiddle to Dublin, but as its own distinct, stand-alone centre of excellence. The city also needs to promote itself as a c.o.e. for R&D in Europe and the world. In doing so, demand for office space in the docklands will be prime – it is achievable. High-rise office, commercial, retail and some, though few, residential, buildings will line the southern docklands as far as Marina Point (which will become a new world-class University Campus – in conjunction with UCC & CIT among others, with extensive student, service, leisure and amenity facilities). Given Cork’s pharmaceutical strength and medical institutions, the city should build on that to develop an international centre of R&D and treatment excellence – in conjunction with e.g. CUH, UCC, Pfizers, MUH etc etc. The high-rise buildings will be of the utmost taste and quality – becoming an exciting area in which architects can explore new opportunities and standards in aesthetics. The high-rise nature of the area will give over more green-space – the area will link up with the city centre’s boardwalk network, lined with cafes, restaurants, bars, play-areas, boutiques etc etc. It will also allow for enough area in which a large, internalised marina facility will be provided allowing Cork and international boat-owners dock their vessels and availing of the nearby harbour area. It will also look good when entertaining corporate clients or visitors. Large public areas could be facilitated by this high-rise district. Kennedy Quay and Centre Park Road/Monahan Road will be the main development area here.

The Water Street Bridge and new pedestrian bridges linking Kennedy Quay with Horgan’s Quay & Water Street will allow excellent pedestrian and rail access between the newly developed Horgan’s Quay residential quarter and railway station. Horgan’s Quay will have some limited high-rise, but not to the same extent as Kennedy Quay. All buildings will be slender in their east-west perspective as to minimise disruptive views from the northern hillsides. Up to 5000 residencies will occupy the Northern Docklands. Waterfront perspectives will be utilised to the maximum. The standard of living will be superior, but not necessarily exclusive.

A new event centre will be in place at the former Munster Showgrounds (and will be considering a possible extension, as the strategic investment pays off pretty nice). The overall improvement in Cork as a whole, plus increased population and increased corporate presence of an international nature along the docklands, will attracted many a convention and many a first preference event. 😀

Cork’s sporting grounds at Musgrave, Turners Cross, Temple Hill and Pairc Ui Chaoimh will be fully redeveloped and among Ireland’s finest – hosting regular international events and some large-scale concerts.

…on a less realistic note….

No potholes on the roads.

All the above is projected on fact and intention, it is realistic, but only with the proper planning, marketing and investment. Cork could indeed, become an excellent living, working and tourist environment, more-so than is, but it will need an open-mind and hard-work.

CCC’s vision – I believe things will (if following growth, plan, statistics and trends) be a little more exciting – a little more radical and better for all concerned.

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