CORK COUNTY councillors have voted in favour of putting a proposal to the public to create a new town 12km (7.5 miles) northeast of Bandon which would in the long term provide for a community of 3,000 people.
Councillors put the Annaghmore proposal forward for public consultation in spite of Cork county manager Martin Riordan and county mayor Noel Harrington's misgivings.
Annaghmore is located on the N71 from Cork city to Bandon, Clonakilty and west Cork. The 200-hectare greenfield site is 17km (10.6 miles) southwest of Cork city.
The O'Flynn Construction proposal includes the building of 1,500 housing units, creating jobs for 460 local people in services, construction and enterprise. The developer says the settlement will include sport, leisure and recreational facilities, and provision will be made for schools, churches and other community services.
Mr Riordan said in his report to council members, however, that it was his belief that the new settlement proposed at Annaghmore was generally inconsistent with proper planning and the sustainable development of the county.
"Annaghmore will have an adverse impact on existing settlements and communities," Mr Riordan said.
The growth of the ring towns, particularly Kinsale and Bandon, would be significantly reduced below the levels proposed in the Cork Area Strategic Plan (Casp), and these towns would not realise their full economic and social potential.
"The proposal for Annaghmore will also have a strong negative impact on the future population and viability of the villages and rural areas that make up the Casp ring strategic planning area, particularly nearby villages like Halfway and Crossbarry," he added.
Mr Riordan said the proposal would not act as a "stepping stone" to assist the development of west Cork but would compete with the balanced development of existing towns in the county.
He also said one of the principal effects on west Cork would be increased congestion on the Cork to Bandon section of the N71.
However, supporters of the project say Annaghmore would assist in a new strategy to meet the projected housing needs of the Cork area.
Both the developers and the supporting councillors say Annaghmore could assist in the plan to develop nearby Clonakilty as a strategic employment centre to serve west Cork.
Joe Carroll (FF) told members of the chamber that he was in favour of the project on the basis of the possibility that it would initiate a new road network in the area.
Kevin O'Keeffe (FF) maintained it was important to at least give the public a chance to access the proposals before further decisions were made.
Residents of the surrounding areas who attended the council meeting yesterday had a range of concerns, one of which was the risk of flooding.
Annaghmore in the original Irish means "big bog" and the Ordnance Survey map for the area contains the inscription "liable to flood".
As there is no rail link to the area, opponents also feel the proposed development is likely to cause serious traffic congestion.
After two hours of debate on the matter, councillors voted 23-13 in favour of putting the proposal forward for public consultation.
The proposals will be made public in the coming weeks with a further vote likely to be held at Cork County Hall in October.
The Irish Times