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Cork County: Investing in growth

A cross-sectorial loan (CSL) of €33.7 million is the first between the CEB and Cork County Council and will part-finance up to 52 projects in nine town centres across the county

By 2040, it is estimated that there will be an additional one million people living in the Republic of Ireland. Project Ireland 2040, the Government’s long-term strategy, aims to accommodate this growth by investing in public infrastructure and facilities, businesses and communities across the country. 

Reinforced by the Project Ireland 2040 strategy, Cork County Council has developed a Social Sustainability Investment Programme (SSIP) for 2019-2029 which aims to maximise the potential for growth while ensuring sustainability. 

A cross-sectorial loan (CSL) of €33.7 million is the first between the CEB and Cork County Council and will part-finance up to 52 proposed projects in nine town centres across the county. These locations all have socio-economic challenges but play a key role in providing employment and services for their wider rural catchment areas. 

The CSL is expected to benefit some 60,000 people, providing employment opportunities and upgraded infrastructure and amenities. The aim of the loan is for approximately: 

  • 77% of the total project volume being used to improve living conditions in urban and rural areas, including road networks, sport and leisure facilities and rural work hub
  • 14% to go towards the protection and rehabilitation of historic and cultural heritage and the development of tourism
  • 4% to be used for environmental protection and energy efficiency projects 
  • 3% to be used for health projects
  • 2% to protect against natural and ecological disasters 

Creating thriving towns 

Commenting on the vision for County Cork, Tim Lucey, Chief Executive of Cork County Council, says, “Cork has been targeted with delivering around 23% of Ireland’s overall population growth by 2040. 

“The future success of County Cork is contingent on a sustainable foundation, with a network of thriving towns supporting their hinterlands and providing for sustainable growth.” 

Bandon and Mallow are two of those towns, and among those set to benefit from the CEB loan. Bandon has a population of 7,000, is the gateway to the West Cork region and serves a wide catchment area. Mallow is the administrative centre for the north of the county and has a population of over 12,500. It lies at the heart of the milkproducing Blackwater Valley.

Tim Lucey continues, “Cork County Council’s Development Plan aims to promote Bandon as a premier market town by creating a unique sense of place, embracing its rich built heritage, and encouraging continued expansion of its employment and service function.” 

A vision for Bandon 

In 2015 Cork County Council commissioned a study to facilitate an integrated approach to public realm enhancement and transportation for the future development of Bandon. Extensive consultation took place to define the problems and agree a vision for the town which, at that time, had deprivation levels below both the state and county averages. In 2017 the Bandon Transport and Public Realm Enhancement Plan (Bandon TPREP) was published, and included proposals to improve streets, traffic circulation, public transport and a broad range of public realm improvement works. These works aim to broaden pedestrian access and enhance public spaces in the town centre to increase footfall and boost retail viability.

Reviving Mallow Town Hall 

Mallow Town Hall

Mallow Town Hall was built in 1930 as a theatre and subsequently housed the town’s library and council offices. Owned by Cork County Council, it has remained largely unused for years. Now, a project inspired by the medieval traboules of Lyon in France, is set to reimagine its role. 

Covered passageways through the building will connect different parts of the town, and the town hall itself will regain various public uses, including performance and gallery spaces, a tourist information office, and a café bar. Consequently the town hall will once again become Mallow’s cultural and social heart. 

Tim Lucey says, “Cork County Council’s Development Plan is committed to delivering quality places for people to live, work and visit. This requires coordinated, strategic planning and investment. 

“The part-financing provided by the CEB loan is pivotal to its success.”

Commenting on the benefits of the CEB-funded projects to the two towns, County Cork’s Mayor, Councillor Ian Doyle, says, “The Bandon TPREP will deliver inclusive economic growth and improved accessibility for vulnerable groups, while the Mallow Town Hall design is an exciting and important social project. With support and investment from Cork County Council and the CEB, the people of Bandon and Mallow can look forward to a prosperous, sustainable and inclusive future.”

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