An Bord Pleanala rejects plan for €50m town
PLANS to build a €50m town on the outskirts of Cork have been shot down because of a lack of roads, rail links and an "incoherent" approach to planning.
An Bord Pleanala has refused permission to one of the country's largest local authorities to build a new town at Monard due to concerns about the amount of low-density housing and a lack of detail in how the new town was planned.
Cork County Council planned to build 5,000 new homes for 12,500 people at Monard, which would ultimately cost €50m.
The scheme also involved a new railway station, a secondary school, four national schools and creches and it was expected that the development would be completed by 2045.
It follows government approval in June 2010 to designate 1,000 acres at Monard to be a strategic development zone (SDZ), which allows for large-scale plans for the area to be developed.
However, An Bord Pleanala yesterday refused permission for the scheme, overruling its inspector's recommendation that the council be asked to provide additional information.
The board said that despite the council's long-term commitment to the development, there was a "lack of certainty" in relation to the delivery of roads and rail, which were outside the council's control.
This meant that development would be reliant on the local road network, which would result in "serious traffic congestion".
The board also found that much of the housing and development was low-density, which would "not achieve" the best use of the land.
It also said the planning of new homes "lacked coherence, definition and detail" and could give rise to "serious difficulties" in relation to access. The siting of offices which were accessed via a residential estate would also "seriously injure" the amenities of homeowners.
"The planning scheme as proposed would, therefore, be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development for the area," it found.
Given the level of public money required to complete the scheme, the board did not consider it appropriate to reduce the number of homes to 3,800, as noted by the inspector.
The council said it was "disappointed" at the decision, and that it believed the issues raised by the board had been addressed in a public hearing last May.
"While the council will need to study the board's decision in more detail, it is noted that it is not in accordance with the recommendation of the board's inspector," deputy county manager Declan Daly said.
The town was first proposed in 2001, he added, and was to be developed over three decades. While there was uncertainty about new roads, safeguards were built into the scheme which would prevent housing from being built ahead of essential infrastructure.
Mr Daly said there were "tensions" between developing an overall plan for a SDZ, and insisting that infrastructure would "definitely be provided".
He added that one of the functions of SDZs was that they were given the appropriate priority for infrastructure works because of their economic and social importance.