Up to €2.5 billion is being invested in Cork as the city enters a period of transformation. Photo: Cork City Council

€2.5 billion boost for city

With the city projected to increase its population by 110,000 to 353,500 by 2040, Cork City Council has revealed a €2.5 billion investment plan with significant development of housing, sustainable transport, parks, public spaces and climate resilience in the coming years. This forms part of a wider €10 billion investment pipeline, excluding health and education, over the next decade.

Cork City Council say that the investment will allow the city to manage growth sustainably with infrastructure-led development, allowing residents and communities to live close to public transport, walking and cycling links and have ready access to education, amenities and healthcare facilities.

A major part of the transformation is The Docklands, which is set to be “the largest and most ambitious regeneration project in Ireland,” say the City Council. The area will provide homes to 22,500 new residents and will have the capacity for 25,000 jobs. The aim is for it to be a carbon neutral district designed to mitigate the impacts of climate change where 80% of journeys are made by walking, cycling or public transport.

Plans for the Docklands also include the establishment of six new schools, development of a 5 kilometer quayside area, creation of 9.7 hectares of quayside amenities, construction of over 5.5 hectares of new sports grounds, and the expansion of the €30 million Marina Park development, which is expected to be concluded in the next two years.

Public transport

Cork's public transport system is set for a significant boost with a 53% increase in bus services through Cork Bus Connects. The plan includes the introduction of two 24 hour bus services, linking Ovens/Ballincollig to the city centre and Carrigaline to the city centre to Hollyhill. Additionally, seven all-day bus routes, operating with a frequency of 15 minutes or better, will be established. Previously unserved areas like Upper Glanmire, Waterfall, and Kerry Pike will now have access to bus services. It is hoped that the phased delivery of up to 91 kilometres of bus corridors and priority measures on 11 strategic bus corridors will enhance connectivity across the city.

Iarnród Eireann is currently investing €185m in the Cork commuter rail network, with the establishment of eight new train stations by 2040 under the Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy (CMATS). There will be a 15 minute frequency on Mallow, Midleton, and Cobh services by 2040..

The Cork ‘LUAS’ is also potentially in the works, with a proposed 17km network linking Mahon to Ballincollig via the city centre.

Aiming to address housing needs, the Housing Delivery Action Plan (HDAP) targets the delivery of 3,934 units of social units by 2026. Currently, 1,145 homes are under construction, valued at approximately €402 million. The projected delivery value from 2022 to 2026 stands at around €1.9 billion. The aim is to deliver 1,737 affordable homes homes by 2026.

In efforts to mitigate flooding risks, the Morrisons Island Public Realm and Flood Defence Project is underway, aimed at safeguarding approximately 400 properties. The Glanmire/Glashaboy scheme is currently in progress, with an anticipated completion by the first quarter of 2026, offering protection to around 103 properties.

Dereliction and vacancy

Acknowledging the issue of dereliction and vacancy which is currently facing the city centre, Director of Strategic & Economic Development, Fearghal Reidy said: “The vacancy rate nationally but 14%, but most of the streets in Cork are at 10%. In terms of Patrick St specifically, there's a higher level of vacancy there at the moment.

“There is considerable investment in hotels, either acquisitions or new construction. We have seen new retailers and new restaurants open which is promising. So there is a lot of positivity, and a lot of challenges,” he said.

President of the Cork Business Association Kevin Herlihy, welcomed the announcement, saying: "This is fantastic news for Cork and demonstrates the seriousness of the commitment from national Government to put in place the necessary circumstances for significant growth to occur. There will be disruption but it will be game-changing for our city. We will have a more liveable, better connected and greener city.”

Over the coming months, Cork City Council will roll out a public information campaign, entitled Our City is Changing to familiarise those who live, work and study in Cork with the rationale behind these projects and details of the transformational schemes they will see in the city over the coming years.