All posts by Marcia D'Alton

Town and Village Streetscape Enhancement Scheme 2021

Applications are invited from Passage West town centre for funding of streetscape and shopfront enhancement projects under the 2021 Town and Village Streetscape Enhancement scheme.

Commercial, residential or unoccupied buildings only are eligible to apply for the scheme.

Our Rural Future is the Government’s five-year strategy to revitalise rural Ireland and includes a commitment to upgrade and enhance shopfronts and street facades in our rural towns and villages. This activity will be funded by the Department of Rural & Community Development (DRCD) through this 2021 Streetscape Enhancement Measure. This is an additional Measure introduced as part of the Town & Village Renewal Scheme. €7 million is being made available under this Measure in 2021. Improving the visual appearance of our urban streetscapes increases pride and confidence in our home towns and villages, making them more attractive places to live, work and do business.

The focus of this measure is to support the upgrade and enhancement of shopfronts and street facades of defined areas within selected rural town/village centres.

Eligible Works

Eligible works include painting, signage replacement, shopfront improvement, scaffolding, materials, lighting and planting; see also below:

WORKS

  • Green enhancement of entrances/ terraces with planting (Maximum grant funding €500)
  • Painting of building/shopfront in carefully selected colours which will complement the host building and streetscape.
  • Mural which must agreed in advance with Local Authority (Maximum grant funding €1,500)
  • Decluttering and repair of shopfronts; decluttering can include such works as removing unnecessary signs, flagpoles, wiring etc (Maximum grant funding €2,000)
  • Careful illumination and lighting of architectural features of buildings. (Maximum grant funding €4000)
  • Improvements to shopfront window displays and staging. (Maximum grant funding €4000)
  • Replacement of signage with traditional wooden fascia with wooden/hand painted lettering OR contemporary design (Maximum grant funding €4000)
  • Canopies/Awnings complementary to the materials of the shopfront and building (including street furniture) (Maximum grant funding €4000)
  • Replacement of existing shopfront with traditional painted wooden shopfront OR contemporary design (Maximum grant funding €4000)

Maximum per building €8,000

Grant Rates

Grant funding will be provided at the following rates:

  • 70% for Individual premises – matched funding 30%
  • 80% for Joint applications (groups of 3 or more adjacent premises) – matched funding 20%
  • 100% – Where painting is undertaken by direct labour by applicant

Closing date

The closing date for applications is 5pm, Tuesday, 7th September 2021.

Procurement requirements for applications / Quotations

The following procurement rules apply, as a minimum, to the individual projects funded:

2 x Contractor quotations;

1 x Materials quotation;

(Note: 3 written quotations for contracts above €5,000 as per National Procurement

Guidelines)

Successful applications will require:

  • Completed Application Form.
  • Required Quotations
  • Photograph prior to commencement of project

Payment of Grant Award will require

  • Photograph of completed project
  • Evidence of payment – ie bank statement extract showing transaction

Full guidelines and the application form are here:

Marino Point – an bord pleanala planning permission & conditions

An Bord Pleanála has granted planning permission for the first phase of development at Marino Point. This gives the green light to the Port of Cork for site preparation works including demolition of the remaining superstructures, infilling of the lagoon, site levelling, roadworks, installation of new drainage systems, a wastewater treatment plant and more.

The Board’s decision and attached conditions are here:

Carrigaline Municipal District Streetscape painting & Signage scheme 2021

Cork County Council’s Carrigaline Municipal District Painting Scheme is once again open for 2021. Fantastic to see Passage West featuring so prominently on the cover page of the application forms! Any building in the main commercial areas of Carrigaline, Passage West, Glenbrook & Monkstown, Ringaskiddy (Main Street/N28 from Ringaskiddy Oratory to Ringaskiddy Community Centre) and Crosshaven (Lower Road/R612 from the vacant building opposite Chish and Fips to Buckley’s Bar) is eligible under the scheme. Tenants or owners of businesses in these areas can avail of a grant of up to 50% of the cost of works up to a maximum of €1000 for shop front improvements (painting and signage) carried out by a registered contractor. If you choose to do the painting yourself, there is a contribution of up to 100% of cost to cover the materials cost. Application forms and guidelines are below. We will arrange for some application forms to be put in Passage West Post Office over the next few days also.


Residential Scheme, Word and PDF versions:


Shopfront Scheme, Word & PDF versions:

Carrigaline Tprep consultation

Cork County Council is currently preparing a Transportation and Public Realm Enhancement Plan (TRPEP) for Carrigaline. As part of this process the Council wants to hear the views and opinions of residents, community groups, businesses and other interested parties as to how they perceive the town currently and the transportation related (i.e. active travel, public transport and roads) and public realm interventions they would like to see as the town develops. These submissions will be considered in the drafting of the TPREP .

A subsequent round of public consultation, presenting the measures proposed under the TRPEP, will take place once the draft Plan has been prepared.

A presentation providing an overview of the project and outlining how you can engage in the preparation of the Plan is available here and on Cork County Council’s website at www.corkcoco.ie/en/planning/traffic- transport:

Comments and observations may be submitted online on www.yourcouncil.ie, by email to trafficandtransport@corkcoco.ie or in writing to Senior Engineer, Cork County Council, Traffic and Transportation, Planning and Development Directorate, Floor 11, County Hall, Cork, on or before Monday 1st March 2021.

Notes from a suspension of standing orders at a meeting of full Council, 11-01-2021

Suspension of Standing Orders – Ringaskiddy Fire.  Requested by Cllr Seamus McGrath and Cllr Marcia D’Alton

Cllr Seamus McGrath:  
Thanks the Mayor for facilitating the discussion.  This was a very significant fire.  Pays tribute to the fire service.  Information deficit.  Needs to be an effective communications systems set up.  Acknowledges that there was a meeting last night between the Port, R&H Hall and the residents and the initial word back from residents is that they felt it was a satisfactory meeting.  But during the early hours of the fire there was a deficit of information.  Residents communicated among themselves through social media.

The wider issue is in relation to the response when something like this happens.  Ringaskiddy is a major industrial area.  The weekend’s fire concentrates minds.  Ringaskiddy is a cul de sac that is surrounded by water.  The Port of Cork implemented its own emergency plan on Saturday morning.  But as a community Ringaskiddy would like to see the Council look at a localised incident plan for Ringaskiddy.  We have a Major Emergency Plan for the county.  There is a place though for a local plan for Ringaskiddy.  A multi-agency approach would be adopted here.  

Have some specific questions.  The wind thankfully wasn’t in the direction of the main settlement.  Air quality was raised though.  Do we have an environmental response in terms of air quality?  I understand that it was decided it was safe for residents to go outdoors.  Residents want to know if that decision was based on testing.  Knows there was a meeting before that decision was taken.

I want the fire service to have a role going forward.  There have been three fires since September in this location.  That is a matter for the company.  It calls into question some of their fire prevention measures.  Would like to see our fire service having a role in carrying out a risk assessment in relation to his specific site.  The weekend has to be a wake-up call.

Thankfully there were no injuries.

Residents are looking with a positive frame of mind to the Council to engage on this.  

Cllr Marcia D’Alton:
Echoes Cllr McGrath’s thanks for facilitating this discussion on what was the second largest fire in Cork Harbour in my lifetime.  Repercussions for the whole harbour.  Echoes thanks also for the significance of the response from the fire service and notes that units from 4 or 5 locations were involved.  Thanks also for the email communications over the past couple of days.

This fire took place at the head of the Ringaskiddy peninsula.  Some of the local footage shot by drivers from Haulbowline past the fire indicated how, if it were bigger, the N28 would have been cut off.  Pfizer’s OSP4 is right next door.  That’s a Seveso site.  So it was very fortunate that the fire was contained.  It could have been so much worse.  An emergency plan for Ringaskiddy is essential, not just for the community but also for the many workers on the peninsula.  It is also necessary to consider an emergency plan for Cobh.  Any accident at Ringaskiddy will have a significant impact on Cobh and Cobh is also an island with one road in and one road out. 

Cork Harbour is a bowl and the Ringaskiddy peninsula is at its very centre. Any accident that happens in Ringaskiddy affects not only the Ringaskiddy community but communities all around the harbour.

Have also some specific questions.  Requesting an inventory of materials that may have burned in the fire.  We know it was mostly animal feed but the warehouse burned and other materials within the warehouse would have burned too.  What kind of animal feed was it?  Different grains produce different levels of particulates.  Was the firewater contained or did it run into the sea?  Was it analysed?  That question of whether the decision to advise residents it was safe to go back outdoors was based on air monitoring has also been asked of me.  

Cllr Sinead Sheppard:
Supports what the two cllrs have said and glad that it is being spoken about here today.  The reality is that when something like this happens, it puts everyone’s health at risk.  Glad Cllr D’Alton brought up that Cobh is an island.  There have been a lot of photos taken and sent to the local councillors.  Wants to support all that we said.  What more proof do planners need than a live model of what happens when something goes wrong?  Is it even possible to think of putting an incinerator in here?  This is just a no go area.  Wants to commend us for doing a suspension of standing orders today.  Our harbour is such a beautiful amenity.  It is very distressing to see this and puts everyone’s health at risk.  

Cllr Ben Dalton O’Sullivan:
Agrees with what has been said.  Thanks the emergency services and the communications office.  Fully supports the proposal for a Lower Harbour/Ringaskiddy incident emergency plan.  We should give serious consideration to this.  We’d all hope we’d never have to use it.  It is a very sensible call.  Where there is a lack of information there is fear.  I would hope that we could write to the Port of cork to see if communications could be improved.  CThe ouncil needs to take a lead in an emergency plan.

Mayor Linehan-Foley:
When I saw it first it would have been on social media.  Thanks the emergency services.  Echoes what every councillor says and especially what Cllr D’Alton said.  It’s at this stage a have-to situation.  Thanks us councillors for keeping everyone updated over the weekend.

Chief Executive:
Sent out a short report this morning.  This set out the framework in which we operate.  Commends our own fire and emergency services.  There was active communication all day Saturday and all day Sunday.  We will continue to remain on site for as long as it takes.  There may be minor plumes of smoke emerging for a short period of time. The company will move the material from site.

Appreciates where members are coming from.  Cork County Council as an organisation leads the multiagency response to a major emergency.  We have a suite of plans in place.  We have our own multiagency plan which is published on line.  It contains emergency plans for all the Seveso sites.  Assures cllrs and the public that when it comes to a major emergency operating in Cork County, the emergency planning system and the emergency response system, there are processes in place that if required we can operate beyond.  Where any organisation in the county is facing something that is not within their capability to manage, we seek a multiagency response.  Within those plans we have community centres, hotels, transport providers on call in the event of any situation arising.  

What arose on Saturday morning was an event of scale that we responded to.  It is not beyond our capability and we would have faced similar over last number of years.  The Port of Cork decided to active their own emergency plan.  It is clear that they have a set of actions they must take including communications.  It is welcome that the Port of Cork and the company have met with residents.  

There is a formal post-incident review process and this will examine everything that happened on site including communications and engagement.  That learning will help us to further develop our thinking around the more granular detail around a local incident plan.  We have to work in a framework.  If the wind was blowing in a different way, we may well have needed to evacuate residents.  Our plan provides for that.  Cork County Council would have stood in in that case and activated it ourselves.  Writing that down is difficult but the framework does provide for it.  We would be happy to engage with local residents and the Port and enhance this.  Perhaps a text alert system would work, something like the MapAlerter system for example.  We’re happy to consider what we could do in this regard so that every agency down there might adopt this system if an issue arises.

On air quality – we rely heavily on the information from the port company (in this instance) and the company that operates the facility (in this case R&H Hall).  We were satisfied that there was nothing burning there that would be of an enhanced public health risk for residents.  So we felt there was no need to go beyond the Port’s recommendation to stay indoors.  

In relation to onsite conditions and risk assessment, that is a matter for the company to review and they will be doing that as we speak. There will be a normal set of circumstances kick in.  our Chief Fire Officer will in conjunction with those on the ground be preparing their own review.  

No event like this is walked away from without learning which brings enhancement in risk assessment, enhancement in response, etc.

In relation to the other issues raised on the nature of what burned, etc., this will come up as part of the review.  We are satisfied there is nothing of significant concern there.  It will be part of R&H Hall’s review as it will be ours.

There is an onsite stormwater system but there is no doubt that it was probably not able to hold all the fire water.  The Director of Services is arranging that samples are taken as we speak.  Once we are satisfied we can do this in a safe manner, we will do so.  We will revert on that.

The positive thing is that the fire was exceptionally well dealt with.  Secondly there were no deaths or injuries.  Thirdly there is a very formal review process.  Any learning from this will be considered in terms of the more granular detail of a local response in the Ringaskiddy area.  We may involve the Municipal District.

Cllr Cathal Rasmussen:
I work in a pharma company right beside where the activity took place.  I look out on R&H Hall.  I am aware of the shortcomings there for a long period of time.  Delighted to hear that Council will engage strongly with the Port and R&H Hall.  Would be concerned that if the buildings went back, this will happen again.  This was an accident waiting to happen.  Will they have to go for planning permission if they want to replace the buildings?  I would have huge concerns about that the buildings would go back up and we would have no say in it.  As someone who has a lot of experience of dealing with the Port, I would be very concerned that everything that has to be put in place is put in place and that they are held accountable.  We were lucky this time, we may not be so lucky the next time.

Cllr James Kennedy:
What hasn’t been mentioned was the cost of this fire to Cork County Council.  Will we be able to recoup the cost of this to our fire services?  The amount that was spent on putting out the fire for a private, very profitable company?  Will they pay it all back?  Or will it be the same as derelict buildings that the banks will get all the costs back and we’ll have to do the safety work?  Will we be compensated fully for that and if not, why not?  

Cllr McGrath: (supplementary) Wants to thank the CE.  Understands the post incident report.  Understands that will take time.  What we will give back to the community is important.  Asks that it is made public as appropriate.  Welcomes comments in terms of communication.  There was no text system in place on Saturday morning.  It would be welcome.  Says the updates over the weekend were very welcome.  Reminded about the air quality testing question.  

Cllr D’Alton (supplementary): 
Want to emphasis how critical it is that we recognise the impact of an accident at Ringaskiddy on all communities of Cork Harbour. If one looks down at the harbour from above, Ringaskiddy is at the very epicentre of the harbour bowl. Pollution from an accident at Ringaskiddy can affect communities all over Cork Harbour right up to the City. Cork City Council has a network of air monitors in place. We need a similar network around the harbour. We are always seen to support industry. It has been said in the past by the Ringaskiddy community that when Ringaskiddy was being developed for industry, the people should have been moved out. But they weren’t and they are living with industry all around them. We have to be as supportive to the communities of the harbour, to its amenity and to its environment as we are to industry. This is something that has been rumbling for a very long time.

Chief Executive:
It is premature to speculate on what might happen with the site.  The full costs of our response is covered by charges and rates.  Rates go towards supporting the fire service.  The whole of one charge isn’t billed.  Information flows go through our own Major Emergency Management Officer and our Chief Fire Officers, they are acutely aware of the need to engage.

There are probably two Municipal Districts involved. There are two air monitoring locations which the EPA have in Cobh.  The EPA has  four monitors inside in the city.  The EPA monitor in Cobh showed an increase during the course of that event and it reduced afterwards.  Will raise the question of a monitoring network with our environment section.  The important thing is that we had full assistance on the ground from R&H Hall and the Port of Cork.  Can assure members of that.  

Cllr D’Alton: 
There are three Municipal Districts involved!  We would all welcome being kept up to date through the MD structure.

Photo taken by Rodney Daunt on 09-11-2021. Shows the smoke plume spreading out like a table cloth and heading towards him in the Myrtleville/Ringabella direction.

Cork City Council plans to upgrade the Blackrock – Passage West greenway

Cork City Council is in the process of upgrading the greenway from Páirc Uí Chaoimh all the way to the City boundary at the Forge, just west of the Roberts Bridge car park. That’s obviously massively relevant to us here in Passage West/Monkstown!

They’re doing this in two Phases. Phase 1 is from Páirc Uí Chaoimh to the N40 (excluding the footbridge). It includes widening of the existing surfaced area from 3m to 5m, the installation of new public lighting and CCTV, highlighting the heritage of the railway (especially at Blackrock Station) and creating a biodiversity corridor along the railway line. Construction of Phase 1 has started and if you would like to see the previously approved Part 8 plans, they are at: https://consult.corkcity.ie/en/consultation/improvement-works-passage-railway-greenway-improvement-scheme.

Phase 2 is from the footbridge over the N40 to #PassageWest, although most of the focus will be from this side of the N40 to Hop Island. The project will be looking at widening the paved surface, providing improved parking areas (especially at Harty’s Quay) and installing lighting. Surveying is starting this week. This will inform the preliminary consultation phase, likely to be in mid-December. The City Council is especially anxious to look at possible alternative routes/improvements to the current shared on-road path from the Rochestown railway station to Hop Island. If you are a greenway user and/or if you would like to to make contact about your experiences and any improvements you might like to see, please share your thoughts at this preliminary phase. It will help to inform the route options analysis as it progresses. You can email the City Council to adrian_quinn@corkcity.ie. You can also obviously make contact with me if that’s easier!

My motion to full Council, 09-11-2020 re. reducing speed limits in town and village centres to 30 kph

“That Cork County Council would introduce a special speed limit of 30 km/h in all town and village centres. This would support safer movement of pedestrians and cyclists, support local businesses by increasing shopper dwell time and support a more pleasant and healthier town centre environment.”

Due to Covid 19 restrictions, lifestyles have changed.  There are more people working from home, travelling less and shopping in their local towns.  There are more people taking open air exercise in their local areas.  Public transport can accommodate fewer people so there are more people cycling, more people walking and, as happens at the moment, more people stepping out into the carriageway to socially distance from other pedestrians.  As coffee shops and traditional indoor meeting places can accommodate fewer, there are more people socialising outdoors in our town centres: using seating on footpaths and in town squares.  During lockdown earlier this year, we got a very strong sense of how reclaiming streets for people can be so very liberating.  Children cycled in the carriageways.  People chose walking routes that they wouldn’t normally choose.  When lockdown lifted and traffic returned, many reported a very strong sense of loss that their freedom in the streets had once again been taken away.  

Towns centres are for people.  Places where people shop and socialise.  Places where people meet friends.  Places where people run businesses to bring in a family income.  Cars don’t shop.  Cars don’t socialise.  Yet most of our town centres are dominated, not by people but by cars.  Town centre movements are generally dictated not by people, but by cars.  People must co-exist with cars, particularly if a busy regional road runs through a town centre as is the case with so many towns in Ireland but the balance of influence in a town centre starts to become more balanced when vehicles travel at lower speeds.

At the moment our default speed limit in built up areas is generally 50 km/h.  Setting the speed limit at a maximum of 30 km/h has a multiplicity of benefits, all of which are massively helpful to people and town centres.  There are fewer accidents when the speed limit is lower.  Accidents that happen are less severe.  In Belgium, for example, they have found that 45% of pedestrians hit by a car travelling at 50 km/h die while only 5% die from being hit by a car moving at 30 km/h.  A reduced speed limit especially benefits the safety of the younger, the older and the more vulnerable road user including cyclists.  In Edinburgh when they introduced 20 km/h, they found that the proportion of older primary school children allowed to play unsupervised on the street outside their homes rose from 31% to 66%.  In Bristol, they found that walking and cycling rates increased by almost 25%.

A 30 km/h urban speed limit makes streets quieter almost immediately.  Generally it reduces noise by 3 dB – that’s approx. the equivalent to halving traffic noise.  How many of you have held outdoor meetings in the past few months and found yourself shouting to be heard over traffic noise?  Or simply staying quiet whilst a truck roars past?  With a reduced speed limit, on street conversations have the chance to become comfortable.

And then there is the improved air quality that comes with a lower urban speed limit: estimated at approximately a 15% reduction in CO2, a 40% reduction in NOx and a 45% reduction in CO.  So it becomes healthier to linger in our town centres, easier to live in our town centres and more pleasant to do business in our town centres.

For all these reasons, one of the conclusions of the 80 ministers and 1700 experts from 140 countries at this year’s international UN summit on Road Safety was that a speed limit of 30 km/h should become “the new normal” in all places where cars, cyclists, and pedestrians cross each other.  And that is why in the Netherlands, the new standard speed limit will be 30 km/h in all built-up areas.  A similar decision has been taken in Spain.  Lower speed limits are the norm in most city centres in Italy, in Finland, in Norway.  They will be in throughout Belgium in 2021.  30 km/h has been the speed limit in Dublin City Centre and a number of large residential surburbs since 2010.  Spurred on by the impact of Covid, Dublin City Council now proposes to reduce the default speed limit from 50 km/h to 30 km/h throughout its entire administrative area.  Galway City Council is proposing to reduce the speed limit in Galway City Centre to 30 km/h.  And that decision was already taken in 2019 by Kerry County Council for Tralee and Killarney.

Cork County Council’s Project ACT has been about rebuilding the economy and community.  A speed limit reduction to 30 km/h in our town and village centres is the perfect partner to Project ACT.  It is a massive opportunity to make our towns nicer to live, work and linger in at minimal cost to the Council and with really positive outcomes for people and businesses alike.

Cork County Council’s Project ACT has been about rebuilding the economy and community.  A speed limit reduction to 30 km/h in our town and village centres is the perfect partner to Project ACT.  It is a massive opportunity to make our towns nicer to live, work and linger in at minimal cost to the Council and with really positive outcomes for people and businesses alike.

You can read the Executive’s response to the motion at this link:

Executive response: