10. Delivering Homes and Successful Neighbourhoods
Allocating sufficient land to enable the supply of homes to meet demand and need is a core function of a development plan and the planning system. Cork requires homes for new workers that come to Cork to live, as well as homes to meet local need. The City Development Plan aims to ensure that the right blend of home-types and tenures are provided in appropriate locations. Critical to understanding this will be the completion of a Housing Need and Demand Assessment and the Housing Strategy.
Creating successful neighbourhoods is a key aim of the planning system, which is focused as much on the quality of homes and placemaking as it is on ensuring the right quantity of homes are provided. This is supported by integrated planning and the use of placemaking to create socially sustainable communities and environments all of which enable high standards of quality of life that are as environmentally sustainable as location and standards allow. The Development Plan aims to ensure that the right civic and community infrastructure is provided and ambitious development standards are applied to enable the creation of successful neighbourhoods and a city that is truly ‘liveable’.
To support and improve Cork’s liveability means to take action around several cross-cutting themes each with their own challenges, and to work with existing communities in neighbourhoods to collectively identify improvements necessary to ensure that all parts of the City benefit from high standards of ‘liveability’.
- Housing: c.635 home completions in Cork City in 2019;
- Strategic Housing Development commitments –10 schemes containing c2600 residential units and 674 purpose-built student bed spaces housing have been permitted since the process was introduced;
- Social housing: target for 2017-2021 is 2230 units (c. 550p.a.) 697 units provided in 2019 (build, acquire and lease). 461 - 2018; 292 – 2017; strong pipeline planned for 2020 and 2021;
- Selected Social housing developments completed – Cork North West Quarter Regeneration (Phase 1 and 2A), The Meadows (69 homes); Church Road, Blackrock (43 homes) and Deanrock, Togher (66 homes);
- Affordable Housing: City Council with DHPLG assistance is progressing affordable housing schemes. 147 unit scheme at Boherboy Road has progressed to construction; O’Cualann Housing Cooperative has planning permission for 17 homes at Knocknaheeney; further affordable housing projects planned for various sites.
- Civic and community infrastructure developed: Hollyhill Library (2018); Douglas Community Centre (2019)
- Student Housing: there are c. 5,500 Purpose-Built Student Bedspaces (PBSBs) in the city;
- Community: Cork has 10 Libraries; 4 Swimming pool/ leisure centres; 12 Community Centres;
- Education: Primary Schools; new schools planned for Douglas, Togher and Old Whitechurch Road; post-primary school planned for Rochestown
- UCC Completed: Student Hub (2020) and UCC Centre for Executive Education, Lapp’s Quay (2019);
- Planned: Cork University Business School; Dental School, Curraheen; Health Innovation Hub, Curraheen.
- MTU: Planned: Strategic Masterplan Review (2020); Planned MTU Sports Arena; Upgrade of 1970s building stock.
10.3. Challenges and Opportunities
(i) Delivering Homes
The Department of Housing Planning and Local Government (DHPLG) introduced many initiatives, including the programme under Rebuilding Ireland, to improve housing supply. Housing supply has increased but housing output remains insufficient to meet either housing demand or housing need.
An important element of every Development Plan is to ensure that there is a balance between the demand for new residential land - as set by the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy population projections for Cork - and the supply of zoned, serviced residential land. There have been significant changes to the planning policy context to development plans at both a national and Regional level that the Plan is required to demonstrate consistency with. The recently published RSES, includes ambitious population projections that will directly influence residential zoning requirements.
The City Capacity Study being prepared by Cork City Council is assessing how much residential land is available for development. The forthcoming plan will determine if the existing quantity of zoned lands is adequate to deliver the RSES targets.
The National Planning Framework (NPF) introduces a new standardised methodology that requires planning authorities to differentiate between: zoned land that is serviced; and, zoned land that is serviceable within the life of the Plan (National Policy Objective 72a). The NPF requires that, when considering zoning land for development purposes that cannot be serviced within the life of the City Development Plan, then such lands should not be zoned for development.
The NPF also obliges each local authority to undertake a ‘Housing Need and Demand Assessment’ (HNDA) in order to correlate and accurately align future housing demand. It is intended that the HNDA will be a database which allows Local Authorities to run a number of different scenarios to inform key decisions on future housing need and supply. As set out in the NPF, the HNDA will primarily inform housing policies, housing strategies and associated land use zoning policies, as well as assisting in determining where new policy areas or investment programmes need to be developed. A joint Cork City and County HNDA will be prepared.
(ii) Housing Strategy
Cork City Council and Cork County Council will prepare a Joint Housing Strategy building upon the HNDA to inform the respective Development Plans of each Council. The Strategy will set out an overall framework for the supply of land to meet housing needs arising across the administrative areas in line with population and housing targets for the Metropolitan Area. It will set out how housing needs, including specialist housing needs, will be met.
(iii) Student Housing and Co-Living
Purpose-built student bedspaces (PBSBs) are required to meet the needs of students attending University College Cork and Munster Technological University. Co-living is a new form of short-term housing tenure aimed at meeting the needs of new workers moving to cities, such as Cork, before people find longer-term housing. What are the right kinds of locations for these specialist kinds of housing and how should these be distributed to ensure that neighbourhoods can be balanced in their make-up and thrive? What are the essential facilities that should be provided with them so that they offer a high quality of life to residents?
The Cork City Development Plan must include specific objectives for redevelopment and reuse of vacant urban sites in specific areas. Identification of regeneration areas and sites and specific objectives, which will be of benefit in securing the objectives of the Core Strategy, will be included in the forthcoming Plan.
(v) Community facilities
A key component of urban life is having access to the necessary community facilities to ensure a high standard of living for citizens, including the provision of facilities to meet health, educational, recreational, cultural, retail, local services, worship and social needs, as well as facilities for young people and the elderly. Objectives to ensure adequate provision of infrastructure to serve civic and neighbourhood needs will be incorporated into the development plan. A key input into the development plan will be the completion of a Recreational Needs Study to identify active sports requirements for the city and its constituent communities. Similarly, citizens should have access to public transport and nature within close proximity to their home.
10.4. Key Questions
- What community facilities are needed to serve new neighbourhoods in major development areas to make them “liveable” and what are the current obvious gaps in provision within Cork’s existing neighbourhoods?
- Cork needs a new acute hospital. Which accessible location should provide a new home for this regional facility?
- What is the right proportion of below-market housing in major development areas to meet the needs of all citizens?
- What role could historic areas play to provide more homes in the city and which should be identified for regeneration?
- How should the forthcoming plan ensure protection of existing community amenities and the provision of appropriate facilities in tandem with housing delivery?
- Where should increased height be accommodated in line with the Urban Development and Building Height Guidelines?
- How do we ensure that higher density developments meet the needs of families, as well as those of smaller households?
- Where should purpose-built student bed-spaces (PBSBs) and co-living homes be located and what will make these attractive to live in?
- In an age of scarce public money what facilities should be shared (e.g. sports halls shared by schools and communities) to enable as many people as possible to make use of them? Who should own and run the facilities?