What Does the 2022-2028 County Development Plan Mean for Carrigaline?
Writes Ciaran Dineen
It may be cliché, but it is hard to argue that the development over the course of the next decade in Carrigaline could be the most important in the history of the town.
On the week that this article is being published, the 2022-2028 Cork County Development Plan is truly fresh off the press. On June 6th, the 6-year plan, which in the shortest of terms explains what can be developed on land within the local authority and why, comes into force. In its entirety, the Development Plan spans into the thousands of pages, with the chapter for the Carrigaline Municipal District alone racking up 80 pages.
However, as has been the case over the years, there tends to be a lot of copying and pasting from previous plans that effectively do little more than add padding to a document that few could muster the mental capacity to read, even for a planner. This little explainer seeks to break down the jargon and offer an insight into the vision that County Hall has for the medium-term future of Carrigaline.
The Core Message for Carrigaline
For me the key line as part of proposals for Carrigaline is as follows; “it is envisaged that the town of Carrigaline will experience significant growth. This future growth will occur within the existing development boundary and will primarily focus upon the redevelopment and rebalancing of the Town Centre”.
Ultimately, the key requirement for the new Development Plan is to restore a sense of “balance” that the town is crying out for. Over the course of the last 20 years, the town centre has been pulled in almost every direction, as housing estates have mushroomed from the heart of the town, resulting in a very hollowed-out centre.
If Carrigaline stretches any further the identity of the town as a ‘place’ may be lost forever. The best way I can describe the situation is that based on current residential urban sprawl, if housing estates continue to ‘mushroom’, people will no longer identity as being from Carrigaline, when asked on the radio, “where are you from”, they might just give the name of their housing estate or ‘breakaway’ settlement as opposed to the town itself. This would represent a cataclysmic disaster for Carrigaline and must be avoided at all costs.
How Can this be Avoided?
The pessimists out there (and maybe perhaps the realists depending on their mood) would suggest that the damage done to the town is irreversible, however I take a more glass have full approach. The future of Carrigaline can be bright if it implements a series of carefully considered strategic plans which radically improves pedestrian permeability, increases cycling infrastructure and connectivity and reduces our obsession with private transport mobility.
Moreover, we need to ensure that commercial and retail development is primarily focused on the town centre, and shut down proposals that do not pass the sequential test. People have to get back into the town centre meeting other people, socialising, eating in local restaurants, not only to ensure the trickle-down effect of economics, but to build relations and social capital in the community. A critique of Carrigaline is that there are so few places to eat and shop, but when a new place does open it often has to close its doors shortly after.
This is because there is simply not enough footfall in the town to make it a viable option for businesses to maintain, this is because as things stand, Carrigaline prioritises cars and not people. It is also coupled with the fact that on average 20% of new Small-Medium Enterprises, such as cafés, restaurants etc, tend to fail within the first two years of being open. Therefore, in order for them to survive, SMEs need to have a consistent stream of cash flowing through the registers to provide stability.
The building blocks are in place for Carrigaline to become a friendlier urban environment for people and businesses (both old and new) to prosper, however we are very much in the infancy of this change and like a newborn baby, the first couple of months and years are critical.
The Carrigaline Western Relief Road on its own will do nothing to restore the all-important balance to the town, but if implemented in congruence with the transport strategy as part of Carrigaline TPREP, we have the opportunity to deliver real change that could shape the village for decades to come. The delivery of public realm enhancements is equally important, and there can no longer be any further delay to the reclamation of space for the public good. All decision-makers and stakeholders need to be bold in this process. It is now or never.
Over the course of the last two years, The Carrigdhoun Newspaper has covered these plans in much greater detail and act as a good reference point for further information on the matter. What we do not know yet is how key parcels of land within the footprint of the town will be developed, or more importantly, when. The Circus Field and the Old Pottery Site are crucial development sites in Carrigaline, with both subject to live planning applications involving both Lidl and Aldi.
It is now a reality that in 2022, the future of towns like Carrigaline largely rests in the hands of globalised superstores that treat each town no different to any other. Again, these planning applications have been covered extensively over the course of the past 18 months and indicate their importance to ‘unlocking’ critical sites in the area, which will have considerable impacts on the prosperity of businesses and the overall wellbeing of the town centre for years to come.