Almost €20million in essential infrastructure is required to open up key sites along the Midleton- Carrigtwohill rail line to large scale housing development, Cork County Council told a special Sitting of the Cobh and East Cork Municipalities.
The Local Authority, on Monday 15 October last, released details of a 20-year plan worth €18.67million identifying 14 privately owned sites that have the potential to provide up to 2,500 new homes.
The infrastructure plan goes on public display on the 2 November for 12 weeks and, if Planning is granted, will be developed in three phases commencing in May 2019.
In addition to providing much needed accommodation, the scheme looks at making provision for a second railway station at Waterrock, designed to encourage people off the roads and onto public transport.
The programme also includes space for two Primary Schools and a Secondary School, a commercial area to complement the retail area in Carrigtwohill, and a number of parks.
Three bridges which traverse the railway will be upgraded to accommodate pedestrians and cyclists.
Cork County Council will provide €1.2million; €4.1 million in funding will be made available by Government through the Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF); with the remaining €13.5million coming from Developer contributions and Irish Rail.
A separate investment is required from Irish Water to upgrade its water and sewage facilities to accommodate the expansion.
A 300mm water main in Midleton must be extended for a quarter of a mile from the market town, to accommodate the first phase of the development of up to 1,000 houses.
To accommodate the development, the water utility say that waste water must be pumped to the Carrigtwohill Wastewater Treatment plant to free up capacity for other developments near Midleton.
Under the LIHAF, funding 520 homes will need to be constructed by 2022, leading to some concerns that Irish Water will not be in a position to facilitate the plan, due to tight time margins.
Irish Water say they have enough capacity to provide drinking water for 1,000 houses, and a new project is required to provide for the remaining 1,500 homes.
The say there is no capacity, however, in the Midleton network for additional wastewater.
It is understood a new Pumping Station and Rising Main will be constructed near Waterrock to pump waste to the Carrigtwohill Waste Water Treatment Plant.
The draft blueprint also provides for the upgrade of the Knockgriffin junction by converting the left turn lane coming from the N25 into a straight ahead and a left turn lane.
Coming from Midleton onto the junction the right turn land onto the northern relief road will be banned.
In 2009 the Government opened up the railway link to Midleton, and at that time the construction industry crumbled and development stalled.”
Now that demand is starting to grow for housing throughout the county, Cork County Council say they believe the Plan will attract significant interest from developers.
Some Councillors, however, believe the density of the Plan is too high, with others feeling the investment is a major gamble considering the fact that no developer has been tied into the Plan.
Council leaders say that, while there is an element of risk, the risk will be mitigated by the landowners signing a legal agreement to apply for planning in conjunction with the infrastructural improvements, and then build houses.
Other Cllrs told the Executive on Monday that they fear the proposed development is far too large for an area already blighted by heavy traffic, and could cause gridlock if problematic sections of the N25, such as the Baneshane intersection, are not addressed.
Five developers will benefit from the initial infrastructure upgrade, each expected to provide 8% of their development as affordable housing, with a further 10% earmarked for social housing.
The five landholdings are key to providing access to the nine remaining sites.
The CSO predict that by 2045 the population of the country will grow from 4million to almost 6.5 million, and Cork would have to provide for its share of the increase.