With the ongoing recovery in economy, we are going to see changes in Blarney and surrounds in the coming years. Already, plans have been submitted for new housing in Blarney Village, and we can expect to see much more of this in the greater Blarney area in the next 5 to 10 years. Much of what will possibly be coming is set out in the Cork County Council Local Development Plans. Local man Eamonn Pitts has taken the time to review the Plans. If anyone is interested in making a submission, you need to do it without delay.
A local area Plan shows what the Council envisages will happen and how it looks at certain issues, such as where will housing, industrial development and shopping be located. It sets out to express locally the County Development Plan. It is prepared by Council officials but is finally approved by councillors. There is a local area plan already in existence, which can be accessed on the internet at http://www.corkcoco.ie/co/pdf/906381091.pdf?nocache=6758854. This pan was drafted in 2009 and 2010 and adopted in August 2011. The plan looks forward to 2020. We are now at a stage where a new plan is being drafted with a horizon of 2022 and the Council officials are consulting with the public. There was an opportunity to do so in Blarney on 7th December. And of course the new proposals are available on the internet. Submissions must be made by 4pm on 16th January. One complication is that the local area plans are drafted, based on electoral areas. The existing plan was based on the old Blarney electoral area and included all of the areas of potential interest to us in the Chamber- Blarney and its hinterland (excluding Blackpool and the city). Since then electoral areas have been changed. Blarney village and areas to the West including, Tower, Inniscarra, Dripsey and Grenagh are included in the Draft Blarney/Macroom Local Area Plan. However other areas of interest to us, Kerry Pike, Killeens, Carrignavar and crucially Monard are now included in the Cobh Local Area plan. So we need to know what is in two area plans. The Blarney/Macroom Draft may be accessed at http://corklocalareaplans.com/blarney-macroom-municipal-district/ The details are in a report containing 248 pages! The Cobh Draft may be accessed at http://corklocalareaplans.com/cobh-municipal-district/ The key part of the current plan, of interest to us and to all local residents is the proposal to build a new town at Monard with a population of 13,000 and to increase the population of Blarney threefold from 2,500 to 7,500, by encouraging the development of housing, shopping, schools and businesses in Stoneview. New railway stations at Blarney and Monard are envisaged. No progress has been made on the Stoneview development primarily because of “access issues”, presumably the development of the N20. The Stoneview development, if pursued would mean that more than half of Blarney “village” would be the “other” side of the Mallow Road. All other villages in the area are envisaged to grow much more slowly. Both the Stoneview and Monard developments are included in the new plans and are seen as part of nine sites around the city, which will permit “urban expansion”. The first of these is at Water Rock. Stoneview is included with three other sites in what the plan calls a “second tranche”. Monard comes later. The population target for Blarney is 7,533, compared with actual population in 2011 of 2,437, requiring an additional 2,566 housing unit according to the current plan. The new draft plan provides instead for 3,146 housing units, including up to 500 houses east of the village at Ringwood. An expansion of the Blarney Business Park is envisaged, although it is accepted that it is at present not fully developed. The importance of tourism to Blarney is highlighted and paragraphs from previous plans are repeated emphasising that “Future development initiatives within the vicinity of the Estate should not compromise the landscape and heritage character of the area on which the local tourism economy relies”. It is envisaged that normal shopping will take place in Stoneview with shopping offerings in the current village confined to tourism related offerings. The plan does suggest that there is a need for up market tourist related facilities, which would itself add to the attractions for visitors. The Blarney Park Hotel site is regarded as “sensitive”, because of its location. The Council wishes to see a mixed use development, but with lots of qualifications. There are three Natural Heritage areas identified for protection. These are Blarney Castle Woods, Blarney Bog and Ardamadane Wood. (all carry overs from the previous plan). The lake and walk at Clogheenmilcon are surprisingly not included. In relation to the Stoneview development the biggest problem is the absence of adequate roads. There are detailed proposals for connecting roads from the N 20 and a new road is suggested to connect to old Blarney, as t is felt that Station Rd would not be able to accommodate the increased volume of traffic. It is envisaged that the Stoneview development will take 10 to 15 years and will be in three phases, with the roads provided first. The number of dwellings in Grenagh is 217. An additional 150 housing units are envisaged in future years. The number of dwellings in Tower in 2015 is 1,161, an increase of 68 on 2005. Planning permission has been granted for an additional 120 houses. A maximum additional growth of 182 houses is envisaged in the draft plan. The population of Tower in 2011 was 3,306, an increase of 6% on 2006. 86 extra houses are envisaged for Courtbrack, 30 for Dripsey and 25 for Upper Dripsey, 16 for Berrings and 10 in Cloghroe. Very limited development is envisaged for Inniscarra or Waterloo areas. There is no discussion about development of Inniscarra Lake as amenity or site with tourist potential. It is envisaged that the Monard development will provide, in the period up to 2022, 1,727 new housing units, and a population of 3,619. The overall long term plan is for a population of 13,000. While there is provision for retail and other “town centre” activities, the development is predominantly residential. There is no provision for industry or other major employment. There is provision for four primary schools and one secondary school. As a “new Town” there is extensive provision for pedestrian and cycle ways and the whole concept is based on extensive use of a newly built railway station. An extra 100 houses are envisaged for Carrignavar, an extra 30 in Killeens, an extra 50 in Whitechurch, and an extra 30 in Kerry Pike. Development in Clogheen and Killeens is likely to be discouraged because they are in the “green belt area” surrounding the city.