City agrees to Science Park
A major development that could create upwards of 17,000 jobs and mark Cork out as a potential Silicon Valley of Ireland is beginning to take shape following a decision this week in Cork City Council.
The Cork Science and Innovation Park (CSIP), in the pipeline for Cork County Council since 2003, is to be established at the western edge of the city boundary in Curraheen.
The plan includes provisions for the construction of access roads in the predominantly greenfield site, located between Bishopstown and Ballincollig. Infrastructure includes a 2km access road, with two bridges, to provide transport to five development centres. Cork County Council has appointed Mott MacDonald Ireland as consultants to deliver the projects, which also has the provision of utility and water services for the green technology based park.
City councillors agreed on Monday to a Section 85 agreement, which allows the county council to build the infrastructure inside the city limits where necessary.
However, some councillors were hesitant on the issue, citing the development as another example of over-reach by a competing local authority.
“This development will cause a certain amount of displacement,” said Labour Cllr Michael Ahern.
“It once again shows that we need a boundary extension or one body overall. At the moment we have two empires competing against each other.”
Independent Cllr Kieran McCarthy described the development as a “great arrow in Cork’s quiver,” and challenged the City Council to support the technological sector.
“What is the next fad, object, drug, technology the world is looking for? Does this region have its ear fully to the ground to be able to capitalise on global needs? Competition is something this city needs to look at across every aspect of its business.”
The CSIP is expected to concentrate on green energy and research advancement that will complement the work being done by institutions such as the Tyndall National Institute and the Rubicon Centre in Cork Institute of Technology, along with the Genesis Programme.
Fianna Fail’s Kenneth O’Flynn was deeply critical of other councillors who expressed reservations for the park, based on worries on the impact on the city.
“For Cork to move forward we must move forward as a metropolitan region,” said Cllr O’Flynn.
“We are a big enough county to work with or colleagues in the county. We are talking about 17,000 jobs here. If I could be put one person in Ireland into a job in the morning I would do.”
Phase One of the project, according to County Council documents, will create 1,320 employees and researchers, while Phase Two and Three will generate 4,500 and 11,354 respectively. The spin-off jobs in retail and other ancillary employment positions lead to the 17,000 figure. These figures are separate from the initial construction phase.
City Manager Tim Lucey insisted the CSIP would be complementary to the Docklands Project in the city, which is geared towards fourth generation business and manufacturing industries.
This development is hugely important for the Cork region in terms of the knowledge and innovation economies," said CSIP Interim Director, Coleman Casey.
"We have approval for a road to access the site a number of weeks ago so we expect to commence on that project soon. We are preparing an implementation plan for the site now and expect the first building to go up by late 2014. We are also in the process of drawing up a communication strategy for stakeholders and residents which will be released shortly."