Friday, 7 December 2007

Docklands forum to hold first meeting

THE national forum charged with co-ordinating one of the country’s largest regeneration projects will meet for the first time next week.

The Cork Docklands Development Forum will meet on Monday as developers finalise plans for some of the single biggest planning applications in the history of the State for sites in the city’s sprawling docklands.

The forum, chaired by former UCC president, Prof Gerry Wrixon, will be responsible for prioritising the issues that need to be addressed by key government departments and agencies in order to deliver the city council’s vision for the docklands regeneration.

It wants to create a new urban quarter in the sprawling docklands to rival some of Europe’s leading waterfronts.

The 166 hectare region with four kilometres of waterfront has the capacity to accommodate a population of at least 15,000, and a working population of almost 20,000.

Up to 6,000 homes will be built, alongside more than 500,000 square metres of offices, educational institutions, retail outlets as well as culture and leisure facilities, including marinas.

The forum will promote the effective co-ordination and delivery of State investment to build roads, provide water services, and other infrastructure to facilitate this kind of regeneration.

It will also play a key tole in attracting private investment into the area.

The forum was announced two weeks ago by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, who said he expected it to report back to government by next June.

It is expected to set out its terms of reference on Monday and start work on the report.

However, considerable work has already been done by the city council and it is understood this will feed into the forum’s work, allowing it to report back to Government faster than expected.

Mr Ahern described the forum as a landmark step in the development of the city’s docklands as “a residential, economic and cultural centre to rival anywhere in Europe”.

Howard Holdings is expected to be first out of the blocks next month with a €1 billion planning application for a 30-acre docklands site close to Pairc Uí Chaoimh.

The mixed use residential and commercial project will include a €30 million conference centre which is due to open in 2010.

Meanwhile, a decision is expected next month on a city council request for €60m of Government Gateway funding toward the construction of an €80m bridge over the River Lee at Tivoli.

The iconic bridge is seen as crucial to open up the lower half of the south docks region for more development.

Irish Examiner

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