UCC economist criticises boundary proposals

Kevin O'Neill

A UCC economist has hit out at the proposed extension of Cork city, claiming that local interests have taken precedence over the benefit of the wider city region.

Dr Frank Crowley, a lecturer in economics at Cork Business School in UCC, said that the expansion north-west from the city centre is focusing on the wrong areas.

He said that a concentration around the harbour, including areas like Carrigaline and Passage, would make more sense than what is on the table.

"The answer to where the city boundary should be is represented in commuting flows," he said.

"Census commuting patterns indicate that people are predominantly travelling from Douglas, Ballincollig, Glanmire, Midleton, Passage, Rochestown and Carrigaline to workplaces in the harbour, Little Island and the existing city area on a daily basis.

"The city-regional authority should be governing these resident and workplace areas and working on the integration of existing urban landscape.

"In this sense, a focus on better public infrastructure, housing provision and services should be towards the existing city area and the harbour. It does not make sense to be directing the city in a north-west direction as the majority of work opportunities are on the east and south side of the city."

Dr Crowley said the move will separate 'work locations from living locations' and 'will spread public services too thinly' by increasing commuting times and residential sprawl.

"As I presently see it, the infrastructure problems are between existing city areas, the Jack Lynch tunnel, Little Island and the harbour area," he said.

"There is a shortage of houses where there are presently employment opportunities. How does the boundary change have any positive impact on solving these problems?"

The UCC economist said that local interest has dominated the debate so far to the detriment of the region.

"It appears to me that the parochial pump vested interests are at an all-time crisis level in Cork and it is acting as a significant barrier to growth propsects in the city-region. Local interest groups, local politicians and Nimbyism in the east and south of the city and the harbour area have pushed development in a north-west direction which is actually undermining Cork's prospects," he said.

"Facing up to this problem is the ultimate challenge for local government and it is faltering terribly in this regard."