Outlet centre debated again in County Hall
Objections by the Minister for Local Government to elements of the recently launched Cork County Development Plan (CDP) have been met with criticism in County Hall.
At Monday’s meeting of Cork County Council, many elected members voiced their frustration after being briefed on a draft direction from Minister Darragh O’Brien based on advice from the Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR).
The minister’s objections relate specifically to plans for a €100 million retail centre in Carrigtwohill.
At the end of last year, a High Court victory for Cork County Council saw Minister O’Brien’s attempt to halt plans for the retail outlet centre rejected by Mr Justice Richard Humphreys.
However, the OPR and the minister have now advised that a joint retail study must be carried out by Cork County Council and Cork City Council before plans for the retail outlet centre can proceed.
Speaking in County Hall on Monday, Fianna Fáil Cllr Joe Carroll said he is “sickened” by the OPR.
Also speaking at County Hall was Fianna Fáil Cllr Frank O'Flynn who made a passionate plea to his fellow councillors to “stand up and fight” for Cork county.
He said: “When a judge makes a ruling, you listen. In relation to the outlet centre, we're fighting for the survival of Cork county.
“I will fight this, and I would ask that our members in Cork County Council stand up and fight this for the future economic development of this county. That's what we're put here for and that's what we should fight for,” added the Fianna Fáil councillor.
In the Minister O’Brien’s draft direction, which was received on 3 June by Cork County Council Chief Executive Tim Lucey, the minister said the Cork CDP had failed to follow a number of ministerial guidelines and must be informed by a joint retail strategy with Cork City Council.
In closing, Mayor of Cork County Cllr Gillian Coughlan said the draft ministerial direction indicates a complete lack of trust in Cork county as a local authority.
During Monday’s Cork County Council meeting, she said: “It is a fundamental principal of European law that decisions are taken at the level closest to the citizen, the principle of subsidiarity, and that is absolutely being flown in the face by the OPR and by the Government because it was the minister who issued this direction.
“We must really create a scrum as a chamber whereby we push back on this overbearing OPR, because if we don't, it's going to continue to be eroded, eroded, eroded, and we'll just be window-dressing. They're just making the plans up in Dublin and we'll just be a rubber stamp down here in Cork county,” she added.