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Legal review by Save Cork City

Thursday, 7th November, 2019 8:57am

A judicial review of a €6.5m city centre project, which was given the green light in September, was granted by the High Court this week.

The Cork Docklands to City Centre Road Network Improvement Scheme was given the go ahead by councillors at a Cork City Council meeting two months ago but this week a group against the plan, Save Cork City, said it was “with considerable regret” that it has been left with no option but to apply for a judicial review.

The Docklands project includes massive changes to road layouts, as well as improvements to the public realm of the area. Some of the areas in questions include Albert Quay, Victoria Road, Old Blackrock Road, Marina Terrace and Kennedy Quay.

In September, Save Cork City, who are opposed to the flood relief works at Morrison’s Island based on plans to raise the quay walls, felt raising the quay wall along Albert Quay was not highlighted or advertised as much as it should in this Docklands plan. The Green Party felt the same, their councillors said during the September council meeting.

It is a multifaceted project which includes, what the council say is improved transportation corridors for public transport, cyclists and walkers as well as introducing new river side amenities such as a boardwalk and pontoon along a quay front which is currently not open to the public. This will allow, the council said, increased access for future river amenity users, pedestrians and cyclists.

A spokesperson for Save Cork City said: “It is of great concern and regrettable that the Docklands to City Centre Public Realm Scheme contains flood defences as part of the Lower Lee Flood Relief Scheme (LLFRS) and that this flood defence had been concealed from the public and city councillors and the public within a Part 8 application process.

“The decision to combine flood defence with public realm improvements and to again pursue the commencement of the Lower Lee Flood Relief Scheme has combined the many complex issues and has seriously delayed what should be a welcome and separate public realm design.”

Documentation received by Save Cork City representatives, the spokesperson claimed, through access to information requests “shows direct reference to the Morrison’s Island Flood Defence Scheme and the Lower Lee Flood Relief Scheme within the application process for the Docklands to City Centre Public Realm Design”.

A spokesperson for Cork City Council was unavailable to comment on the judicial review as of going to print on Wednesday. However, council officials have previously said that “any contention that the Lower Lee Flood Relief Scheme is being introduced under the guise of a public realm and sustainable transport project in Cork Docklands is wholly inaccurate”.

The Cork Docklands to City Centre Road Network Scheme is separate and distinct from both the Lower Lee Flood Protection Scheme and the Morrison’s Island Public Realm project, said the council spokesperson.

The spokesperson said: “Like all projects, Cork City Council and its design team are obliged to ensure that the proposals are compatible with the planning and flood risk management guidelines, which is part of the planning act.

“In the case of the Docklands project, this has been achieved by clever re-grading of the ground levels such that the river side edge, as proposed, is sufficiently high to avoid the need for a flood defence wall. Note this design solution is confined to Albert Quay East which is currently operating as a working wharf. Albert Quay West and Terence MacSwiney Quay remain unchanged.”

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