Cork central to success of Project Ireland 2040 - Tanáiste
CORK holds the key to the success of the Government's ambitious Project Ireland 2040 development plan.
Tanáiste Simon Coveney stressed that Cork needs to be become the fastest growing city at the heart of the fastest growing region in Ireland if the plan is to succeed and Dublin is to be saved from over-expansion and commuter gridlock.
Mr Coveney, speaking at a special Cork Chamber of Commerce briefing, stressed that the Government is determined to ensure that Dublin's expected growth of 250,000 residents over the next decade is matched by 250,000 residents shared between Cork, Limerick, Galway and Waterford.
Further, Mr Coveney said that the expansion of Cork City Council's boundary area is aimed at ensuring the city delivers on its growth potential to 2040.
He pointed out that action had to be taken with Dublin now equivalent in size to the next 40 Irish cities and towns.
"It is simply not sustainable," he warned.
"We have a situation where people are living in Portlaoise, Mullingar, Navan and commuting to work in Dublin."
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"People are spending up to three hours a day in their cars commuting to work in Dublin and that cannot be sustained."
The Tanáiste stressed that it was vital for the future sustainability of Dublin and the eastern seaboard that Cork act as a developmental counter-weight.
"There is a natural draw from major cities like Dublin. But having 75pc of development in Dublin is not the way forward."
He pointed out that Cork currently has a population of 120,000 but is earmarked to expand to around 250,000 - or 350,000 if it's new 'greater Cork' boundary is taken into account.
"We need to have sustainable growth and cities and towns which maximise the work-life balance for our citizens."
Mr Coveney said that transport links will be crucial to underpinning the Government's development plan - and that ranged from enhanced rail and bus links to ambitious new roads such as the €1bn M20 Cork-Limerick motorway.
Cork is also to get new acute and elective hospitals - but he said the location and scale of these have yet to be decided by the Health Service Executive.
The Cork TD also stressed that 40pc of all future growth must be in existing development areas - preventing the sprawl of cities.
"Compact growth is what we are aiming for."
"We want to achieve sustainable city living for people - we want cities that deliver on their potential."