The Cork City Council area could be set to almost double in size after Cork County Council offered to hand over responsibility for a number of surrounding districts.
In a surprise offer, the county council has proposed that Doughcloyne, Ardrostig, Frankfield, Donnybrook Grange, Castletreasure and Rochestown on the southside, and Kilbarry, Carhoo, Kilcully and Ballyvolane on the northside would become part of the city area.
The move, should it go ahead, would see the city’s population increase by about a third to more than 160,000.
The offer came after Cork County councillors, who met in private to consider a report on local government reform, gave cross-party support to the proposal.
The Mackinnion report, published in June, argues for the retention of two separate councils but calls for an eightfold increase in the size of the city and 100,000 increase in its population to 225,000.
It recommended the expansion of the city to include areas such as Douglas, Donnybrook, Grange, Frankfield, Rochestown, Ballincollig, Tower, Blarney, Monard, Rathpeacon, Glanmire, Little Island and Carrigtwohill which are currently part of the county.
Cork County Council’s offer does not include Blarney, Ballincollig, Little Island, Carrigtwohill, Cork Airport or Monard, where it has drawn up plans for the building of 5,000 housing units adjacent to the Cork-Mallow rail line.
The report proposed that Cork City Council would pay €40 million per year for 10 years to Cork County Council to compensate for the loss of revenue from local property tax and commercial rates as a result of the transfer. It surprised many when it proposed that the city be allowed to expand as far as Carrigtwohill in the east, some 16kms from the city centre, and as far as Ballincollig in the west, some 10kms from the city centre.
News that Cork County Council was prepared to cede the land to the city – for the first time in more than 50 years – emerged as Minister for Local Government Eoghan Murphy announced the make-up of a body that would oversee the administrative change.
Cork County Council said it had submitted a detailed boundary extension proposal to Cork City Council which would see the geographical area of the city increase by 84.5 per cent and its current population immediately increase by 31.2 per cent to 164,915.
"The proposed extension would grow the City Council functional area from its current 37.8 sqkm to 69.8 sqkm and make Cork City nearly two thirds the size of the functional area of Dublin City Council, which extends to 115 sqkm, thus reflecting its status as the second city in the state," the county council said in a statement.
“The proposal would provide for a long term growth in population density levels from the current 3,323 per sqkm to a potential 4,065 per sqkm This again reflects an urban City form comparable to Dublin City which has a density level currently of 4,822 per sq km.”
The areas the county council is willing to cede currently generate €16 million a year in commercial rates and local property taxes. However, the county council said they had the potential to generate income of €60 million per annum.
This additional area, coupled with the potential for major growth within the existing city through regeneration of key “brownfield” sites in the city, would provide for urban growth with potential population increases to 283,000 and potential addition jobs growth of more than 50,000 in the city.
Cork County Council said both elected members and its chief executive had always recognised that a boundary extension for the city was reasonable. The move would position Cork city as the engine of growth for the wider Cork metropolitan region ties in well with the National Planning Framework, it added.