Cork Chamber Submission to the Cork County Council Local Economic and Community Plan 10th July 2015

 
Cork Chamber Submission to the Cork County Council Local Economic and Community Plan 10th July 2015
Cork Chamber Submission to the Cork County Council
        Local Economic and Community Plan

                  10th July 2015

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Cork Chamber
As the leading business organisation for the Cork region, representing over 1,000 businesses that
employ in excess of 100,000 people, Cork Chamber has a mandate to develop and promote policies
that create an enabling business environment and supports the economic, education and socially
responsible development of the Cork region.

Introduction
Cork Chamber commends Cork County Council for its focused and committed approach to the
development of the Local Economic and Community Plan (LECP) and share the commitment of Cork
County Council in promoting and supporting the balanced economic and community development of
the Cork region. In doing so, Cork Chamber welcomes future opportunities to partner with various
stakeholders as we endeavour to fulfil the objectives and actions which will be identified within the
LECP as promoting and supporting balanced regional development.

As the requirement to develop an LECP was introduced by the Local Government Reform Act 2014
and is underpinned by the requirement that actions be distilled via a range of economic and
community development stakeholders, Cork Chamber are ideally placed as the leading
representative voice of business in the Cork region, to act as partners to drive the economic growth
and development within and for Cork. Furthermore, Cork Chamber are committed to highlighting
the future supports, infrastructural and policy developments which are necessary to the long term
and sustainable development within the region, and welcome the opportunity to highlight the
actions needed, potential of and vision for the Cork region. It is essential that such fundamental
plans are integrated into future County and City development plans, regional economic strategies
and the new national planning policy framework under development ensuring that all future plans
reflect the broader vision of the Cork region at regional and national level.

Cork is the location of Ireland’s second largest city region and is Ireland’s second largest economic
engine. The region is a thriving hub of economic, industrial, research and business development
activities. Indeed, over the last 25 years, Cork has consistently attracted many of the world’s largest
companies to locate within the region and is now home to global market leaders in pharmaceuticals,
healthcare, ICT, biotechnology, professional services and international financial services.
Furthermore, Cork has strongly succeeded in thriving from within with the growth of indigenous
home grown businesses which have successfully supported continued and sustained socio-economic
growth.

With a regional population of approximately 500,000 (2011 Census), and a predicted city population
growth which is set to greatly exceed the future growth predictions of other Irish cities, it is critical
that the enablers of future sustainable economic and community development within the region are
identified now, integrated within future planning strategies, and acted upon accordingly.

In supporting the development of the LECP, Cork Chamber are cognisant of the mutually beneficial
development of a cohesive LECP and the importance of integrating such an approach within and
across all future County and City plans. It is clear, that the economic development and community
development of the region are not mutually exclusive and hence it is essential to recognise the co-

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dependency of these models i.e. economic development drives community development and the
existence of vibrant communities promotes further and continued economic development, with the
sustainable and balanced economic development adding to the vibrancy of a region.

As such, the Chamber has identified a number of key areas that we feel are critical and need to be
included within the County LECP. The addressing of these areas will enable the sustained economic
growth of the region in itself, and the sustained growth of the region in the larger national context,
and from a business and wider community perspective.

The key areas which have been identified and deemed critical as regards inclusion in the LECP are
detailed below (in no particular order).

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Cork Chamber Key Points for Inclusion

Cork Chamber acknowledges the efforts and focus of Cork County Council in assessing and
highlighting the issues that currently exist, and those that are predicted in relation to the housing
situation in Cork. Cork County Council continue to show strong leadership in this area and Cork
Chamber both commend this and emphasise the need for continued efforts to work towards
resolving the housing shortage in the Cork region. Cork Chamber fully concurs with the housing
assessment as outlined previously by Cork County Council and as iterated below in section 1.

1. Housing
The ability of Cork County and City to supply adequate housing currently and into the future is
pivotal as regards enabling long term sustainable economic and community development. This
ability is premised on the sufficient identification of suitable lands for housing development zoning,
as well as the incorporation of adequate transport links, infrastructure and appropriate financing
structures.

1.1 Future housing requirement
The current Joint Housing Strategy for Cork City and County states, that there is a requirement for
78,037 new units to be completed between 2011- 2022. Since 2011 (a 4 year period) only 4,926 units
have been completed, mainly one off houses in rural or semi-rural locations. Between 2015 and
2022 a further 73,111 residential units will need to be constructed in Cork City and County.

This sizable gap between housing demand and supply is having consequential effects across the
residential housing market with significant increases in rents and property prices.

According to a recent report (DAFT, 2015) there is currently a chronic shortage of units to rent, with
current rent prices increasing 7.5% year on year in Cork City and by nearly 7% in Cork County. What’s
more, the report from DAFT indicates a 14% year on year increase in Cork property prices.

All the data in relation to the residential property sector in the region points to a scenario of
extremely low levels of housing construction, low availability of housing stock for sale or rent and
a significant increased demand for new units. This lack of supply impacts across all sectors of the
market, private and public, with a lack of housing construction in the Private Sector directly
affecting the provision of Social Housing (Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000,
specifically section 96 which deals with the provision of social and affordable housing and the
Local Authority run, Rental Accommodation Scheme)

Furthermore, it is now widely acknowledged that the availability of quality residential
accommodation is a critical factor in attracting inward investment with many FDI companies
querying the availability of suitable accommodation types within the Cork region. Therefore, the
availability, or lack of, will affect upon the future ability of the Cork region to secure inward
investment having a knock-on effect on the economic development of the region, and the afore
mentioned community development whereby the provision of adequate social housing via public
policy on social housing, specifically in relation to the development of effective and the more
sustainable mixed tenure communities across the region, is being affected.

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1.1 Housing infrastructural issues

There are significant infrastructural issues which may impede the provision of public and private
housing supply in the Cork Region.

Herein is a list of some of the most significant infrastructural projects needed in the Cork Region.
These priority areas have been identified within the Cork County Development Plan and in the
Joint Housing Strategy (between Cork City and County Council) and are deemed essential in
ensuring a sustainable and adequate supply of residential units to the market. As follows:

       Cork Lower Harbour Sewage Scheme - for the urban centres in the Lower Harbour, including
        Carrigaline, Crosshaven, Passage West, Cobh, etc. (Project due to commence Q2 2015)
       Carrigtwohill - waste water treatment plant upgrade and local access roads and bridges.
       Midleton - water supply upgrade and waste water treatment plant and local access roads
        and bridges.
       N28 to Ringaskiddy – to facilitate the movement of Port of Cork activities in the Docklands to
        Ringaskiddy, in addition to enabling and maximising the full potential of MNCs located in the
        Ringaskiddy area,
       Port of Cork development in Ringaskiddy. (Planning granted May 2015)
       Dunkettle Interchange upgrade.
       Ballincollig water supply upgrade.
       Carrigaline water supply upgrade and local roads and major road infrastructural
        improvements.
       Douglas local roads upgrade.
       Blarney water / waste water / junction onto the N20 / rail station.
       Monard water /waste water / rail station.
       Ballyvolane water / waste water / public transport infrastructure / Cork Northern Ring Road.
       Cork docklands – various infrastructural issues such as relocation of Seveso sites, Port
        activities, road infrastructure, drainage infrastructure and land contamination.

Several of these projects are interlinked and are dependent on each other. It is evident that all of
the main areas zoned for future residential development are impacted by issues in relation to road,
rail, water and waste water infrastructure. While it is difficult to put an exact figure on the number
of residential units affected by infrastructural deficits, a significant majority of the lands zoned to
provide the 78,037 new residential units are affected in some way.

It is clear that without the development of housing supply related infrastructure that future
housing supply estimates are inaccurate, and therefore immediate efforts and focus to rectify
infrastructure deficits need to be addressed.

1.2 Finance
Currently financial institutions will only lend up to a maximum of 60% for multi-unit developments
that have planning permission and are “ready to go”. The developer will have to secure the
remainder of the finance (40%) from other sources. Some of the recent proposals for financing
Housing and Residential development propose mezzanine finance models which are dependent on

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large private equity funds. This model of finance is not suitable to the housing construction industry
outside of the Dublin region, as the scale of developments required to make this type of financing
work is simply not present outside of Dublin. Even in Dublin it is debatable whether this financing
model is capable of working.

Efforts need to focus on addressing the current financing issues with regard to the construction of
additional housing in the Cork region, which as already stated, is in an ever decreasing state of
supply which is thereby potentially having a future negative effect on inward investment.

1.3 Costs associated with recommencing multi -unit Residential Construction
It is estimated that 40%-50% of the cost of a house is due to taxes, charges and various levies. To
date, there have been no Government policy initiatives to address the taxation cost issues
associated with building a house. These costs such as Part V, Development Contribution Scheme
Charges and VAT are directly controlled and could be significantly reduced by various policy
initiatives. While the published Planning and Development Bills may provide slight reductions in the
area of Development Contribution Scheme Charges it could be argued costs associated with Part V
will increase as a result of the planned legislation and therefore little will change in the overall cost
structure associated with multi-unit developments.

In the current market it will continue to be uneconomical or marginal to proceed with significant
multi-unit developments even if the site had the infrastructure, the required planning and other
permits. A reduced tax burden on multi-unit developments is an urgent and economically
necessary Government intervention in the supply of new residential units.

2. A clear vision and strategy to improve the competitiveness of Cork Airport.
It is undoubted that Cork Airport is a key infrastructural driver of economic development and in turn
community development within the Cork region and therefore the importance of this regional and
national asset should be fully recognised within the National Aviation Policy. Cork Chamber calls on
Cork County Council and regional stakeholders to support the identification that a more defined
and clear vision for Cork Airport, along with progressive planning on a national level, be
incorporated into the National Aviation Policy so as to support and grow Cork Airport and the
region.

Cork Airport is a key business and tourism gateway and as such Cork Chamber identifies the need to
designate Cork Airport as the Gateway Airport for the South of Ireland and one of three 24 hour
international state airports. As the principal international gateway for the South of Ireland, and the
newly appointed gateway to the Wild Atlantic Way, Cork Airport’s services and air connectivity
have played a key role in ensuring the region’s status as the second most visited tourist
destination after Dublin and are critical to the economic health and global investment appeal of
Ireland’s second city and its surrounding counties.

Cork Chamber believes that Cork Airport is under-represented in the draft NAP and stresses the
importance of an integrated and balanced approach to support the concurrent development of the

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three state airports and in ensuring that economic and employment gains are more evenly
distributed across the country.

Currently, the draft NAP (DTTAS, 2014) identifies very clear progressive visions and policy proposals
for Dublin and Shannon Airports but contains a much more limited and ad hoc focus on Cork Airport.
For instance, the draft policy refers to “many of the respondent’s” perception of Dublin as “the only
airport in the state which could be described as critical to national business and tourism needs”
(p19) and includes a proposal to develop Dublin as “a vibrant secondary hub competing effectively
with the UK and other airports for traffic flows between Europe and the US” (p21). It also
incorporates several progressive growth plans for Shannon Airport including actions to progress the
designation of the airport as an aero-industry hub, a Centre of Excellence for Business Aviation and
an International Aviation Services Centre (p34). The draft policy also commits to opening up new US
routes and expanding US preclearance to include cargo and to exploit this asset to develop “major
transit hubs” at both airports (p16). By contrast, specific strategic proposals for Cork Airport are
essentially confined to Proposal 4.3.2 which states that “the roles of Shannon and Cork Airports as
key tourism and business gateways for their regions will be supported” (Draft NAP, 2014, p23).

Whilst Cork Chamber is supportive of plans to grow Irish aviation services and connectivity for the
national economy, we emphasise the criticality of ensuring that the progressive development of
Dublin and Shannon Airport must not compromise or occur at the expense of the progressive
development of Cork Airport. It is critical that the NAP pursues a more balanced approach to the
development of all three state airports thereby facilitating balanced economic development.

While, Cork Chamber strongly supports the principle of the recently announced (July, 2015) ring-
fenced marketing fund of €1 million announced by Minister Donohoe and which has been allocated
for the co-operative marketing of regional ports and airports. The Chamber does however caution
that while this is a positive announcement, this modest sum should be grown in the future, and
leveraged and sought on a multi-annual basis. It is the opinion of Cork Chamber that this fund be
targeted strategically with outcomes of the fund measured effectively. The Chamber has engaged
extensively with key-decision makers at both a national and regional level advocating the need for
such a fund and over the last 12 months for Cork Airport in particular and is confident of the
opportunities which this fund will generate for our regional port and airport capacity if the scale of
the fund is enhanced. Cork Chamber encourages regional support for the expansion of this
cooperative marketing fund.

3. Flood Relief Schemes
Cork Chamber commends the work of Cork County and City on the development and current/ or
future planned implementation of a number of critical Flood Relief Schemes:
 Lower Lee (Cork City) Flood Relief Scheme (including Blackpool and Ballyvolane)
 Clonakilty Flood Relief Scheme
 Douglas Flood Relief Scheme
 Glashaboy Flood Relief Scheme
 Skibbereen Flood Relief Scheme

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Such works when completed will yield major benefits for the business and wider community. It is
important for the OPW when assessing alternative options to be aware of the operational impact
the works during construction and the visual and aesthetic impact, which the completed works will
have on local trading businesses. This is particularly important given the significant increase in the
tourism business in Cork.
Any assessment of options must include a detailed economic assessment of the affected areas,
quantifying potential loss to trade due to disruption by the works and where possible, the cost of
alternative less disruptive operational solutions, which may have an initial marginally higher capital
cost. These alternatives should also be considered in the overall assessment of the costs of schemes
beyond the construction phase recognising the premium tourism commercial value of riverbank
locations permitting visual access to the river e.g. the boardwalk.

The issue of flood insurance cover, its availability and its cost, is one that affects many businesses
and residents in Cork. Currently the decision to provide any specific form of insurance cover and
the price at which it is offered is a commercial matter based on the assessment an insurer will
make of the risks involved. It is absolutely critical that there is consistent and informative
engagement between Cork County Council, the OPW, and Insurance Ireland, to keep them fully
informed of the changes to the risk of flooding in Cork County as the defence schemes are
implemented. It should be the case that once the works are completed the availability of flood
insurance in previously affected areas would be restored.

Cork Chamber calls for the use of effective and attractive functional flood defence features;
effective current and planned engagement with the insurance industry as a key stakeholder in the
development of this scheme; and highlights the importance of communication and interaction
during scheme development (and subsequent operation).

4. Road Infrastructure schemes
Connectivity and accessibility are two crucial factors to the encouragement and enabling of long
term sustainable and balanced economic development. Therefore, it is essential that strong policies
are developed and pursued as regards ensuring the effective delivery of road infrastructure,
potentially via the further adoption of public private partnerships. The development of high level
strategy which includes strategic engagement processes with Atlantic Corridor counties to progress
the M20 upgrade as a vital infrastructural project should be pursued. This is essential, as well as
ensuring strong supports to progress the required upgrades to the Dunkettle Interchange, N22 Cork
to Kerry road, N28 Cork to Ringaskiddy, and the N40.

Connectivity and accessibility is crucial to the Cork region and to enabling balanced economic growth
across the region, and through ensuring effective connectivity, Cork County will thereby need to
ensure the enablers of growth that will sustain balanced region-wide economic development, which
will in turn promote sustainable community development and the development of amenities and
services for and within communities. Such projects which are critical to the economic and
community development are the:

       N8 Dunkettle Interchange Upgrade

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   N28 Cork – Ringaskiddy
       N22 Ballyvourney – Macroom
       M20 Cork to Limerick – if M20 does not proceed in the short term, the N72/ N73 Mallow
        Northern Relief Road and N20 Relief Road
       Cork North Ring Road
       N40 Demand Management
       N25 Carrigtwohill – Midleton
       N25 Midleton – Youghal
       Cork Science and Innovation Park Road
       N71 Bandon – Skibbereen
       R624 Cobh Road
       Carrigaline Western Relief Road

It should be emphasised that the upgrading of the N28 Cork to Ringaskiddy link is especially pivotal
as the improved capacity will serve and enhance:
      the key industry cluster of multinationals and indigenous firms operating in the Rinaskiddy/
        Carrigaline area, and to support the development of the strategic IMERC maritime and
        energy research/ industry cluster, including the Beaufort Research Centre,
      capacity to serve the external trading and connectivity requirements of the South-West’s
        business community through facilitating the development of Port of Cork’s operations at
        Ringaskiddy and ensuring the provision of adequate port capacity.

The redevelopment and enhancement of this road link will act as a catalyst in supporting wider
regional development, including the development of the tourism sector and of the Cork Docklands
and direct transport benefits in the form of reduced journey times and costs (including associated
environmental costs) for road users on the immediate N28 corridor, in addition to meeting the
increased demands expected to meet the needs of the current housing strategy for Carrigaline.
Therefore it is critical that continued emphasis and support is focused on the attainment of
Departmental commitment in achieving the upgrading of this vital piece of road infrastructure.

5. Public Transport infrastructure needed to support economic and regional development
The availability of efficient and effective public transport connectivity options are essential to
ensuring equality and accessibility to all those living within the Cork region. These are essential from
an economic development perspective as well as from a social inclusion perspective with criticality
also be focused on the provision of alternatives to private transport from an increasingly critical
Climate Change perspective. What’s more the availability of such services and infrastructure are
essential to encouraging and maintaining an attractive quality of life for those visiting and working
within and throughout the county and city. Such public transport connections and initiatives will be
critical to the growth of the Cork County and city region which are mutually dependent and thereby
need to be connected via efficient, effective and affordable public transport options as well as the
creation of the public transport infrastructure, are:
      Mass Transit corridor required linking Ballincollig, via City Centre to Docklands and possibly
          beyond.

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   Bus Route Infrastructure Improvement and Bus Fleet Improvement.
       Monard (SDZ) – rail station and link road.
       Midleton (Water – Rock) – an upgrade of N25 junctions at Midleton and rail station at Water
        – Rock West is needed.
       Carrigtwohill (North) – an upgrade of N25 junctions at Carrigtwohill is needed.
       Glanmire (Dunkettle) – infrastructure upgrades are needed.
       Ballincollig –there is a need for a high quality public transport linkage.
       Blarney (Stoneview) – rail station/ road improvement is needed.
       Ballyvolane (North Environs) – infrastructure upgrades are needed.
       Cobh – the Cobh Road (R624) improvement scheme is essential.
       Bandon (North) – a northern relief road is essential.
       Douglas – an East West Link Bridge is essential to ease congestion in this busy commuter
        location.
       Metropolitan Cork Cycle Network Plan – there needs to be a provision of cycle infrastructure
        on key links so as to assist in achieving national targets for cycle mode share.
       Mallow Smarter Travel Scheme – the facilitation of such schemes is essential.
       Phase 2 of the Public Bike Scheme for Cork – again this is essential especially when
        considering EU Climate targets.

The development and adoption of strong policies and strategies to ensure the effective delivery of
public transport in the County and City through both private and public sector provision, is
essential.

6. Strategic Future Development - Governance
Cork Chamber calls for the further development of joint regional strategies, similar to the draft
Metropolitan Retail Strategy on key planning areas, where an integrated regional approach better
benefits the area in question (e.g. tourism) and which will enable opportunities for further
engagement and private sector involvement, and where engagement structures are identified and
implemented that support stronger partnerships with key actors on joint strategic planning
priorities (e.g. telecoms; road/ports infrastructure for agri-exports).

7. Alignment of Cork regional messaging
The ability to collect and assimilate uniform data relating to the Cork region needs to be addressed.
Currently various bodies segment the regions via various geographical boundaries therefore leading
to great difficulty in presenting uniform comparative data sets for analysis as regards needs, growth
and future predictions.

The ability to use data that reflects a uniform representation of the region and to have such data
available for reference will greatly enhance the ability of those marketing and promoting Cork
County and City and the entire region as a location primed for further future economic
development and would prove hugely beneficial.

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8. Economy & Employment
Cork Chamber advocates the development of a current and relevant Economic Development
Strategy which assesses the modern day needs of the key knowledge-economy industry sectors
against currently available services within Strategic Employment Areas to provide a sound basis for
seeking funding for priority projects. This Economic Development Strategy should incorporate
assessment and associated provisions to ensure optimal infrastructure and supports across the
business landscape from entrepreneurs, micro-enterprises, start-ups and SMEs to large scale
indigenous and MNCs to ensure a strong foundational strategy that enables planning to align with
key economic requirements. Needs assessments of key growth sectors should (e.g. agrifood and the
blue growth economy) also be incorporated to ensure the region is in a prime position to capitalise
on key related economic opportunities.

Existing deficiencies in land zoned for industry must be addressed (e.g. Ringaskiddy –N28 road
access; CSIP N40 road access; Carrigtwohill – wastewater treatment) to ensure the availability of
‘ready to go’ sites and property solutions that do not require significant lead in times for the delivery
of necessary utility and access infrastructure in the manufacturing-related industrial sectors.
Specifically, the Plan should:
  identify appropriate opportunities to enable the expansion of successful business parks and
    new business parks of a similar scale as a matter of priority
  Identify strategically located well-serviced sites for industrial uses, focused on those locations
    closest to major public, private, port and air transport nodes
  Permitted uses for enterprise areas in the County should focus on supporting employment
    generating uses, informed by market forces to a certain degree.

9. Connecting Skills Cork. A Regional Skills Infrastructure – Strengthening Cork’s Talent Pool.
A coordinated regional structure to develop and implement a regional skills strategy with a
collaborative action plans is needed. As competition between International regions intensifies, this
structure would proactively respond to global calls for a more responsive, collaborative and
synergised approach to skills development at regional level and has the capacity to augment the
regions competitive edge via a highly informed and adaptive skills infrastructure that ensures the
timely availability of required quality talent pools.

Cork offers world class higher education institutions, with Cork Institute of Technology recognised as
a world leader with a first class reputation for fostering a culture of innovation. Furthermore,
University College Cork is recognised internationally for its scientific excellence and its world class
research teams and as a result is one of the best funded research universities in Ireland. As such,
Cork County and City share a third level student population in excess of 35,000 students ensuring an
influx of highly skilled and highly educated graduates to the jobs market each year. The City is also
home to three Further Education Colleges and some leading edge research institutes which have
positioned the city well in terms of ‘the knowledge economy’.

It is imperative that access to education across all levels is supported ensuring social inclusion and
equality and in doing so promoting vibrant and sustainable communities and balanced and

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sustainable economic development. Cork has a strong reputation as an innovative and vibrant region
and this reputation has to a large extent been founded on the existence of a thriving student
population. It is thereby essential that the Higher Education Institutes in Cork collaborate and
engage with industry and in doing so together identify and ensure capacity for future industry
skills needs to be met, such as the development of skills needed to enable the growth of the blue
economy in the Cork region. It is important that HEIs and Industry work together and collaborate
in the creation of opportunities for the future growth of the region.

10. Town Centres & Retail
Town centres are the focal point of a community, a vibrant and attractive city or town centre
promotes a location as a place to live, visit and do business. Cork Chamber highlights the need to
support the maintenance and upkeep of town centres, and retail areas within towns. Actions
identified include:
 Ensure appropriate measures are in place to address the sustained risk of dereliction including
   regular evaluation and updates of the impact of the General Contributions Schemes.
 Consideration be given to the co-location of convenience retail in areas of significant workforce
   populations.
 In addition to supporting a concentrated retail core with anchor stores, the LECP needs to address
   and reduce the risk of growing dereliction in the 'transition' areas outside of town centre areas.
 Identify a package of innovative measures and accompanying timelines to more proactively
   secure reduced retail/ building vacancy rates.
 Ensure the incorporation of Age Friendly Ireland principles when reviewing the built environment
   therefore creating an enabling environment for all residents and visitors to the County.

11. Tourism
Prime tourist destinations within the County should be specially designated for tourism
development and supported accordingly to facilitate further growth through provisions such as
enhanced tourism retail developments.

Cork Chamber welcomes the development of a ‘joint regional tourism strategy’ between Cork
County and City Council, and its aim to properly augment and better promote Cork as a ‘one-stop’
tourism destination with a diverse range of tourism products all available within one region.
Furthermore, Cork Chamber advocates the promotion of Cork on an international platform as a
location focused on a green and marine economy. This could focus on sector specific promotion e.g.
seafood, marine and coastal tourism etc). It is also essential to augment and promote a County and
City Council led and co-joined, regional strategic messaging campaign for Cork given its critical role in
optimising regional economic development, tourism and employment, building on the current Cork
Brand Book and implementing the Cork Inc concept.

12. The Blue Economy
The latest figures for 2012 – 2014 show strong growth in Ireland’s maritime economy, with growth
rates of 8% and an employment increase from 17, 425 to 18, 480 full time equivalents. Furthermore,

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Irelands total GDP in 2012 was approximately €173 billion and the GVA from marine economic
activity was approximately 0.7% of national GDP. Of significance and further demonstrating the
potential of the blue economy, estimates suggest that GVA growth rates in Irelands blue economy
for the period of 2012 - 2014 are approximately 8%, which is once again stronger than the growth
trends released from the CSO which show an increase of 5% in Irelands GDP for the same period
(SEMRU, 2012). In their 2014 study, the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs forecasted that 10,000
new jobs will be created by 2020 (EGFSN, 2014). Furthermore, in 2012, the Irish Government
published an Integrated Marine Plan which includes a goal to increase the turnover from our ocean
economy to exceed €6.4 billion by 2020.

Therefore it is essential that the growth of the Blue Economy be continuously and strongly
supported by stakeholders in Cork including City Council, and those throughout the Cork region.
Sustainable development will facilitate more balanced economic development and growth through
innovative solutions in activities such as aquaculture, renewable energy, tourism, and recreation and
the clustering of knowledge and skills will play an important role in sustainable blue growth. As
stated in the 2012, Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth Report (DCENR, 2012) through harnessing of this
ocean wealth there is an opportunity for regions to create much needed employment opportunities,
generating growth and jobs through both established and emerging marine sectors. The enablers of
growth from an Ireland wide context are identified within the 2012, Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth
report, and are for the most part, represented where relevant in the work that has been ongoing
in the Cork region, these are described as: Governance; Maritime Safety, Security and Surveillance,
Clean-Green-Marine; Business development, Marketing and Promotion; Research, Knowledge,
Technology and Innovation; Capacity, Education, Training and Awareness; Infrastructure;
International and North/ South Cooperation. It is clear that the vision and ability to ensure the
right structures are in place will be critical in supporting future opportunities for blue economic
growth both regionally and nationally.

13. Port of Cork
The Port of Cork is the key seaport in the south of Ireland and is one of the only two Irish ports which
service the requirements of all six shipping modes i.e. lift on, lift off, roll on, roll off, liquid bulk, dry
bulk, break bulk and cruise. Most recently, the Port of Cork welcomed the decision of An Bord
Pleanála to grant planning permission for the Ringaskiddy Port Redevelopment project in the lower
harbour. The development, will amount to an investment of around €100 million, and will form an
extension to the existing facilities that the Port currently operates in Ringaskiddy. This will enable
the Port to facilitate larger vessels ensuring long term competitiveness in adding certainty to the
Ports ability to meet the current and future needs of customers and indeed the wider economic
development of the region. This development is strategic and will secure Corks standing as an
international gateway for trade. This is a phased project and this represents phase one of the overall
implementation of the Port of Cork’s Strategic Development Plan (2010), the guiding principles of
which are endorsed within the National Ports Policy, which highlights Cork as a Tier 1 port of
national significance. Phase 1 of the Ringaskiddy Port Redevelopment project is expected to be
operational in 2018 (Port of Cork, 2015).

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As such, Cork Harbour is set to take on an increasingly marine tourism based focus with the harbour
being further opened up to cruise ships, the development of waterfront walks, cycle ways and multi-
faceted visitor attractions such as Spike Island, Camden Fort, Haulbowline and Cobh, along with
investment in marine transport, safety training, and maritime and energy research.

This is a positive development as regards future proofing the Cork region and will facilitate the
growth of the Cork region as regards such strong performing growth areas as Marine Tourism, the
Cruise Liner Industry and Shipping and Maritime Transport and so, the continued development
and broader policy support of the redevelopment of the Port of Cork is essential.

14. Virtual Connectivity
Broadband and the availability of broadband region wide is essential to ensuring access to markets
whether regional, national or international and in thereby ensuring balanced economic development
and the unhindered economic growth throughout the entire County and City region. It is imperative
that Government policy supports the increased and timely roll out of broadband to homes and
businesses across Ireland in rural and urban locations. Such infrastructural connectivity will provide
a level playing field for those doing business and will thereby be essential in promoting balanced
economic and community development, realising opportunities and the potential economic benefits
therein.

Furthermore, and of utmost significance is the realisation of plans to deliver Tier 1 International
connectivity to Cork. Cork Chamber emphasises the importance of such an enabling piece of
infrastructure, its significance to Cork, and it broader national significance. The Chamber highlights
the potential for such infrastructure as regards attracting future FDI, job creation, its significance
as regards reducing telecommunications cost and the opportunity to achieve the shortest latency
between Ireland/ EU and U.S. As efforts to achieve Tier 1 connectivity have been ongoing, there is
now the need for a concerted effort from all stakeholders including Cork County Council to raise
awareness of this project and the economic benefits that such connectivity will bring thereby
solidifying the potential of this project as a driver of economic development within the region.

15. FDI in Advanced Manufacturing Sectors
Of crucial significance to the economic development of the Cork region is its ability to attract FDI
investment, as such the diminished success rate trend which has emerged in relation to Cork and its
ability to attract new FDI companies in the advanced manufacturing sectors, particularly in the
sectors where Cork would traditionally have been seen as front runners i.e., pharmaceutical,
biopharmaceutical, medical technologies, ICT, engineering and food technology, is increasingly
worrying to the overall region and its status as a prime location for FDI investment.

Over the past 6 years IDA Ireland has been successful in attracting a significant number of major new
start-up FDI projects from these sectors, particularly from US companies many of whom were
planning their first investment in Ireland, or indeed their first major investment outside of the US.
But what is particularly notable is that Cork has not been successful in attracting any of these major

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projects despite the region’s tradition and historical track record in these sectors. Despite a previous
strong track record in these sectors, it is now 8 years since the completion of the last significant
IDA supported greenfield projects in advanced manufacturing in Cork (Altana Pharma, now Gilead
Sciences, Carrigtwohill West, completed in 2006; Centocor (now Janssen Biologics),Ringaskiddy,
completed in 2007). In this period other regions, in particular Dublin, Waterford, Limerick and
Galway have been more successful in securing new strategic investment in advanced
manufacturing.

It is considered that deficiencies in infrastructure that exist at each of Cork’s strategic locations for
industrial development (Ringaskiddy, Carrigtwohill, CSIP Curaheen, Little Island) are fundamental to
Cork’s current lack of success in attracting new FDI in advanced manufacturing. Indeed these
constraints will continue to impede Cork’s future success if not addressed in the short to medium
term. For multi-national companies considering a major investment in Ireland, the issues of ‘project
delivery schedule’ and ‘speed to market’, are paramount. Companies are reluctant to select sites
where significant 3rd party works and/or statutory processes are required to render the site fully
serviced and ‘ready-to-go’. The evidence is clear that FDI companies are selecting locations in other
regions where more favourable, better serviced sites are available.

What’s of critical importance now is that every effort is made to expedite the completion of
design, planning and, where feasible, delivery of the identified infrastructure deficits associated
with the sites zoned for industrial development in the city environs and broader county. A
strategic review should be undertaken by the relevant stakeholders (Cork County Council, Cork
City Council, IDA, utility providers, NRA, etc.) to assess the infrastructural deficits that are
significantly impacting Cork’s ability to attract new advanced manufacturing FDI, and develop a
strategy to prioritise the sourcing and allocation of resources and funding to address these needs.

Time is of the essence. Many of the projects required to render the current industrial-zoned sites in
Cork as ‘ready-to-go’ will be on a long timeline (i.e. up to 3-5 years). As such it is imperative that
action is taken now in order to position Cork strongly for the future.

A broader review should also be undertaken to identify other viable sites in the city environs and
broader county that could potentially be rendered ready-to-go for greenfield FDI quicker and more
economically that the existing industrial zoned lands.

16. Age Friendly City
The Age Friendly Ireland initiative is part of a worldwide World Health Organisation (WHO) inspired
movement aiming to ensure that all citizens are enabled to continue to enjoy good health, access
to high quality services, and a secure and enabling environment. Cork Chamber advocates the
importance of this initiative and believes that County services and environs should reflect the
principles of Age Friendly Cities thereby insuring an increasing inclusive, vibrant and sustainable
community.

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Conclusion
In conclusion, it can be surmised that with the right infrastructure, policies and supports, the Cork
region will be ideally placed to avail of future development opportunities. It is essential that in
creating and continuing to develop as a County that espouses and promotes future development
that the principles of social inclusion and equality, vibrant and sustainable communities, and
balanced and sustainable economic developed are supported. Furthermore, it is important that the
development is appropriate, incorporating the less tangible assets which Cork is renowned to
possess, those such as the quality of life, which is premised on the availability and proximity of
countryside recreation, landscape and green infrastructure. As previously stated, Cork Chamber is
highly supportive in the development of the Cork County Local Economic and Community Plan and
once again emphasise the duality of the plan and its mutually dependant co-relationship between
County and City, and the need for the principles, strategic direction, supports and actions identified
within this plan to be incorporated within future County and City development plans, regional
economic strategies and the new national planning policy framework under development ensuring
that all future plans reflect the broader vision of the Cork region at regional and national level.

Finally, Cork Chamber voice its support of a two phased consultation process prior to final plan
completion and would strongly advocate the inclusion of this second step in the final plan
completion process.

References:

   DTTAS,        2014,         A     National         Aviation      Policy        for       Ireland,
    http://www.dttas.ie/sites/default/files/publications/aviation/english/draft-national-aviation-
    policy/draft-aviation-policy.pdf

   DCENR,2012,                “Harnessing              Our             Ocean             Wealth”,
    http://www.dcenr.gov.ie/NR/rdonlyres/FE4B123A-94AC-451E-B80A-
    E8F9BD079E3D/0/HarnessingOurOceanWealthReport.pdf
   DCENR,2012,                “Harnessing              Our             Ocean             Wealth”,
    http://www.dcenr.gov.ie/NR/rdonlyres/FE4B123A-94AC-451E-B80A-
    E8F9BD079E3D/0/HarnessingOurOceanWealthReport.pdf
   EGFSN, 2014, “The Expert Group on Skills Needs Statement of Activity 2014”,
    http://www.egfsn.ie/media/20042015_Statement-of-Activity-2014-Publication.pdf
   Port     of     Cork,     2010,      “Strategic    Development       Plan     Review   2010”,
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/80370539/Port-of-Cork-SDP-Review-Report-Final
   Port of Cork, 2015, “Port of Cork granted Planning Permission for Ringaskiddy Development”,
    http://www.portofcork.ie/index.cfm/page/currentnews/id/161

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