Notes from the Municipal District meeting, 17th November 2014

Executive present: Kevin O’Regan, Maurice Manning, Madeleine Healy (Area Engineer)


1.  Confirmation of minutes of the meeting held on 20th October 2014

Cllr O’Donnabhain:  Asked whether there was any update from his motion on rates at the last meeting.

MM:  Details on rate collection was what was requested.  Rate collection is not organised on that basis but the zones are now being reported on.


2.  Information on upcoming public consultation on Cork County Council’s Age Friendly County Programme.

Lorraine and Aileen from Planning Policy Unit:
Since July, the CE has agreed for Cork County Council to join the Age-Friendly County Programme.  Have had several sessions of public consultation since launch in October.  Numbers of public attending are very low.  So now looking at a different approach.  The whole programme will fall if we don’t get numbers on the voice of the older person.  We are going to reinforce the programme at Municipal District level.  Hoping to engage with community groups, active retirement groups, etc. and contact people directly.  We did the radio and papers the last time but it didn’t get enough of a response.  Will also being doing a poster than they can send to us.

They are going to send us an email asking for suggestions as to whom or what groups they might contact.  Then they will contact those groups directly.

Cllr Forde suggested we might have entertainment at the consultation.


3.  Consideration of Reports and Recommendations:
a) Briefing on Circular on the Control of Vehicle Speed in Housing Estates.


KO’R:  Can consider 5 in the pilot programme proposed by the CE.

MH:  There are hundreds of estates in our Municipal District where these speed limits could be validly used.  We have to limit it to the top priority.  Let’s look at those where there is a school or something of that nature.  Or estates with a central spine road.  But we will only be scratching the surface.  Has no list made up.  This will be some form of measure in place to restrict speed.

Cllr McGrath:  Would like to see reduction in speed limit across the board.  Is this something we can do?  Very difficult for us to choose certain roads over others.  Makes sense that we stick to estates with schools for now.  Maybe email MH with suggestions?   What about the return to the Department for Nov 5th?

MM:  The result of the full Council meeting was that we would choose 5 estates.

Cllr McGrath:  Didn’t know that.  But could you please clarify if it is possible to do it across the board?  It would surely save money with advertising, etc.

MM:  A special speed limit has to relate to a specific length of roadway.  So you can’t just have a blanket advertisement.

Cllr O’Donnabhain:  Is there any requirement for correlation between road traffic accidents with where the pilot phase is carried out?

MH:  Of course – we’ll look at it.  Come back to us with ideas.

Cllr Forde:  Has a big bugbear that we have to pick up the slack on traffic calming around schools for the Department of Education.  Thinks this should be the job of the Department.  Hopes MH might remember this when next new schools come before her in a planning application.

The Members examined the 4 year roads programme that was circulated.


MH:  4 year roads programme.  Last one put together was 2012.  Some years we don’t get what we expect so to have a programme approach allows flexibility.  In the last few years, we have got an initial allocation that has been supplemented throughout the year.  For Ballincollig, the roads programme would have been compiled in the old Ballincollig-Macroom area.

Some of Rockenham was done in 2013 and it was then split up over the life of the programme to enable us to fund it.  Older estates like Rockenham with concrete roads are more expensive.  Grange Park in Douglas is another in our area and Waterpark is a third.  The watermain in Rockenham in part is in poor condition.  Removing concrete road is very expensive and in most cases it was put in with good reason – the ground conditions were very poor.


b) Report on Review of Restoration Improvement Grant – Roads programme 2013 – 2016.

(I had to leave the room for a few minutes.)

Cllr Forde: Thinks it would be much better if we got a lump sum and could decide where it would be spent.  Belgard Downs also should be on list please.


4.  To consider the following Notices of Motion in the name of:

Cllr M R Desmond
That Cork County Council extends the time that has been proposed for the relaxation of paid parking in Douglas over the Christmas period to include a full days free parking on the other two remaining Saturday’s in December, i.e. 6th and 13th and also Friday 19th December. To commence the relaxation period from the Monday 1st December.

Cllr Desmond:  Knows the CE’s proposal has moved on since this motion was submitted.  Was concerned that the mornings would not be enough to support those not working in Douglas.  Is the Friday possible.  Has the Roads and Transport SPC had its meeting yet?  We are to get a report back before December.  Anxious about the timing there.

Cllr McGrath:  Supportive of the motion.  Thanks the Council for responding in a positive way.  Reasonable effort.  Thinks this is important for Douglas that they get a relaxation in the run up to Christmas.

Cllr O’Laoghaire:  Supports the motion.  Thanks the officials.  Good boost to the locality.  Is in agreement with the motion.

Cllr D’Alton:  Very supportive of the motiion.  Concerned about publicity.  Keeps a regular track on the media and hasn’t seen anything to advertise this.

Cllr Forde:  Supports me on publicity.  Very important.  Hopes the proposal won’t lead to chaos in Douglas.

MM:  Douglas fell outside the category of what had been done in other towns before.  This was an executive function to relax the bye-laws.  Wouldn’t favour extending the free parking beyond this.  We don’t know what the impact will be.  There is significant turnover of spaces on both Friday and Saturday in Douglas.  €1000 was collected from 240 pay parking spaces in Douglas in October on each of the Saturdays.  Shows that it is being used.  SPC is meeting on Monday in relation to pay parking in general.  It will be discussed at the first Council meeting in December.  In areas with 3 hour parking, if you’re giving a 2-hour concession, you really don’t have to pay all morning at all.  It’s also hard for traffic wardens to see when someone arrives and to gauge how long they’ve been there.

Cllr McGrath:  The warden will still be working on the day and will there still be time limits?  Free parking but subject to time limits?

MM:  Yes, time limits still there but parking is free.

Cllr O’Laoghaire:  Could we not move the free parking day to the 1st?  Very easy to remember.

MM:  Traditionally Christmas shopping starts on 8th.  This is the day free parking in Cork City has also started as well.

We spoke about publicity again.


Cllr  S McGrath
1) ” To request that the Engineer consider the provision of a footpath on Coach Hill to serve a number of residential estates.”

Cllr McGrath:  Has come up a lot over the years.  Came up during the election.  You raised it at the Southern Committee as well.  Is it one area in our elected area (except for Lehenaghbeg) with schools, lots of residents, etc.  Know there is a huge cost involved – needs specific grant – but we have to keep pushing it.  Some of these estates have been here for 25 years.

Cllr Desmond:   Supports the motion.  We have been talking about this spot on Coach Hill for years.  School at the top of the hill.  Pedestrian access at the top of the school is a huge big issue.

Cllr D’Alton:  Supports the motion very strongly and has been working on this with the Area Office.  Some people in houses down the hill bought those houses on the basis of being able to walk their children to school.  They cannot because there is no footpath up Coach Hill.

MH:  There are issues, primarily one of cost.  We can progress with the design office and maybe get it through the planning process.  We won’t know until we go down that route whether there will be CPO involved.  Commits to getting design process underway.


2) ” To ask the Engineer to include Shamrock Place, Ringaskiddy on the Roads Programme for 2015.

Cllr McGrath:  Road in appalling condition.  Hopes this will get surface dressing treatment.

MH:  It is on the list and we are aware of it.


3) ” Given the high accident history at Ballinrea Cross, to request that a safety audit is carried out and recommendations acted upon as soon as possible.”

Cllr McGrath:  There was a collision here.  Car coming from Douglas didn’t stop and ran into car coming from other direction.  This is a cross that needs a safety upgrade.  We have spoken about it over and over.

MH:  A safety audit will just flag what we are already well aware of.  We have gone further than a safety audit already.  We have a preliminary design done, so there’s no point in going back to a safety audit!  We have to bring it through planning and see where we can get the funding.

Cllr McGrath:  Welcomes that preliminary design is in place.   Would a this junction be appropriate for funding under the Low Cost Accident Schemes?

MH:  No – because nothing that will be done here is low cost.


Cllr D O’Laoghaire
That the Municipal District requests a report
(i) on the progression of the Masterplans for Ballincollig (Maglin) and Carrigaline (Shannonpark) referred to in the County Development Plan, with particular reference to the need for a mobility study in Ballincollig to complement the Masterplan

Cllr O’Laoghaire:   Understood that Municipal Districts would have feed in to the preparation of these Masterpans.  People in Ballincollig very anxious to see mobility plan in place.

KOR:  Shannonpark masterplan is nearing completion.  Environmental studies are in progress.  We’ll likely discuss it in February.  Ballincollig masterplan will commence in 2015.  KOR will circulate for discussion when they are ready.


(ii) on what steps Cork County Council has taken to ensure the protection and restoration of Vernon Mount House and what plans if any it has for the House and surrounding areas in to the future.

Cllr O’Laoghaire:  Been some dicussion recently about Vernon Mount House.  Georgian house of great value and history in very poor condition.  Located in an area where there are many plans between both Cork City and County Councils.

Cllr Forde:  Supports the motion but this issue has gone on for years.  Privately owned house.  Met the owner and his agent many years ago.  He got into financial difficulties so unless there was some development at the house the owner would not be able to do anything.  Cork County Council did eventually did some work in there.  Wish it was in public ownership for the people of Douglas.

Nicholas Manseragh is working on Vernon Mount.  He came into the Municipal District meeting to give a report.

NM:  Vernon Mount has been a problem from the 1990s onwards.  When a protected structure is endangered, the County Council has four options:

1)  serve repairs notice
2) assist owners in carrying out works
3) can carry out works itself
4) CPO

There were serious holes in the roof.  The County Council did eventually patch the North roof which eventually sealed that part.  By 2011, the County Council knew further repairs needed to be carried out.  The North roof needed replacement.  We offered the owner assistance but got no response.  We served formal repairs notices.  Still no response.  The County Council entered the lands and did whatever repairs to the North roof we thought necessary.  In 2012 we replaced slightly more than half the roof.  Got Departmental funding to help.  The gales last year affected some of the remaining roof which we hadn’t replaced.  Holes on East and West ends of the roof of the house.  Over the last 4 – 5 weeks we’ve replaced the eastern and western roofs so now about 80% of the building is re-roofed.  The Department of Arts is paying the majority of the cost of this.  But we are aware that all we are doing by doing this is buying time.  There is deterioration going on inside the building at a fair rate.  It is privately owned.  We have been engaged with the City Council in the proposal for the developmentof a park on the Southern side of the Ring Road.  We have worked out a pedestrian and cycle route which will start at the Grange Road, go down the valley to the East of Vernon Mount and go across the Ring Road with a footbridge.  We see this as being a very good cycle route.  There’s a field on the Grange Road (known locally as the donkey field) which we bought 18 months ago.  Perhaps the re-creation of that park will create a more favourable context for Vernon Mount’s recreational or cultural use.  Monkstown Castle is another example of how private ownership can sometimes rescue a place.

Cllr O’Laoghaire:  Is there any extent to which other powers can kick in if the owner continues to neglect it?  What about CPO?

NM:  Not a good idea to use the Derelict Site Acts on a heritage building.  Vernon Mount is a long way from other property it might cause damage to.  Even if we did apply a CPO, restoring artwork is a hugely expensive business.  It is the artwork in the house that is of massive value.  The roof repair is a limited liability.  The rest is a very large undertaking.  We are very cautious about going down that road.  If we could get a number of people to come in – several public or voluntary bodies and incorporating something – that’s where these things become possible.  The Council has many other calls on its resources.

We didn’t recover costs because if we had demanded those first, we wouldn’t have got access.  We’d have lost the Departmental grant, etc.  But we did say that if the house deteriorates to a point where it is of no further value, we would seek to discover our costs at that time.

Cllr Forde:  Would prefer that we went to CPO.  Grange-Frankfield Partnership,  City Council – taxpayer’s money spent on this property for the benefit of a private individual.  Could we not approach him?  He’s very much on his uppers in California.  Waiting until the house deteriorates further will make it too late to preserve the historic element.  The Georgian Society may come on board to help with fundraising.  Could we at least see what a compulsory purchase might cost?  It seems a pity to be shying away from it.  The owner is not going to do anything about it.

NM:  We need more of a head of steam than Cork County Council trying to do this by itself.  What’s been on offer from other bodies has been on a limited scale.  The cost of the compulsory purchase is not the eproblem.  The interior restoration is the problem  There is no point in our accquiring it unless we can take the necessary further steps to put it in order and find a use for it.  Not opposed to it – just the practicality of it.  Is talking to the Georgian Society but they don’t have that kind of money.

Ideally the OPW would take over.


5.  Any Other Business

Cllr Murphy: Asked if the roundabout at Rockenham could be marked.  People don’t know which lane they should be for which exit.  Very dangerous.

Also can he get signs for warning people against dog fouling?

MH:  The dog fouling signs can be got from the Veterinary Department.  She will get some for him.

She will look at the Rockenham roundabout.

Cllr McGrath:  What can the Council do with regard to dangerous trees adjacent to public roads?  A tree fell by Raffeen and blocked the road for an hour or so.  Some of those trees had been marked with a view to taking them down.  The Monastery area is another one.

Also the footpath on Clarke’s Hill is covered in leaves and debris.  Very busy road so you wouldn’t want people stepping off it.  Can it be cleaned?

At Raffeen turning right to Monkstown, the junction is blind.  Can we improve this?

MH:  With regard to the trees in Raffeen, we have spoken to the landowner about 5 times since the storms in February.  We have given assistance.  Tree surgeon sent in by Cork County Council to survey and mark those trees to come down.  The landowner hasn’t done it yet. Totally his responsibility.  There is a lot of concern out there about trees since the storms last February.

Is aware of the footpaths on Clarkes Hill.  Cleaning them is a resources issue.  This is a critical time of year with drain clearance, etc.  Will try to get them cleared.

The junction at Raffeen is difficult because there is not much room for manoeuvre.

Cllr D’Alton: There is a corner garden there, a river running behind the garden and across the road at that junction.  So there is a bridge across the river.  The walls of the side of the bridge are covered in vegetation.  The junction is dangerous and almost safer at night time when one can see the lights of the oncoming cars.

MH will look at it and see if there is any vegetation that can be cut back.

Cllr D’Alton:  The markings at Rockenham were brought up several times by Passage West Town Council.  There had been a commitment to doing them, but at the time funding was being sought for a revamp of the roundabout.  Had also asked for a safe crossing point from Pembroke Wood to the Rockenham side at the time.  Safe crossing has been provided at the bottom of Rockenham but the majority of the pedestrian traffic to Eurospar is crossing the R610 from Pembroke Wood.  Could this crossing be put in when the markings are being done?  Even dished kerbing would help.

Also the N28 Corridor Sustainable Travel Strategy was started in 2012.  The Budget book says that draft final report was completed in 2014.  Did the previous Council get to see this?  If not, when can we see it?  Because we keep seeing bits of it referred to but we have never seen the full report.

MH:  Remembers the request for a safe crossing point from Pembroke Wood to the other side.  Will try to do it.

Will need to check up on the N28 study.  Not sure if quite completed.  Will revert back.

Cllr Forde:  Topping of tree at 67 Delford Drive.  Please could it be done?  Cork County Council did it previously.  Silt at another place.  With regard to the remainder of Coach Hill – could the hedging at least be cut back from the T junction to around the bend?

MH:  Will look at this.