Cork City Council changed the Cork City Development Plan 2004 on Monday 15 January 2007. This change to the plan, made by formal Variation, identifies a number of special amenity views and prospects that contribute so much to Cork’s unique and distinctive cityscape, and seeks to protect and enhance them.
Planning legislation requires Planning Authorities to identify views considered to be of special amenity value in development plans so that they can be protected. Cork City Council’s views and prospects policy (or “Skyline policy” as it has been described) is the first one of its kind in Ireland. This reflects Cork’s unique character, which is a product of its landscape, riverscape, cityscape and array of architecturally significant buildings and views of them. It also reflects the public desire to ensure that what’s special about Cork is protected and enhanced in the face of a rapidly changing city. Many views have come under threat in recent years and this is unlikely to cease with the buoyancy of the development industry.
The assessment of views and prospects in Cork were informed by a number of international ‘best practice’ case studies such as those undertaken in the UK cities of Bath, Leeds and London. The latter study, ‘London Views Management Framework Draft Guidelines’ (April 2005) are perhaps the most comprehensive guidelines published to date. The methodology of the Cork assessment was loosely based on the London Study but with modifications in respect to the unique topography and green rural setting of Cork City.
New development should build upon what is special and distinctive about the city and its “urban villages”, and use this as a framework to inform how individual sites should be laid out, and buildings arranged and modelled, in order to protect and enhance views that are of significance. For example, views of Saint Anne’s Tower and Saint Fin Barre’s Cathedral are iconic and extremely important to the city’s identity and how we understand the city. Views of Saint Anne’s Tower are visible from a wide area, including from Parliament Bridge, Coburg Street, and Dublin Hill. Other views protected include those of landscape, such as the city’s ridges at Montenotte and Sunday’s Well, townscape, river corridor views, and approach road views.
The panoramic view from Bell’s Field at the top of Saint Patrick’s Hill of Shandon and Saint Anne’s Tower used to be an iconic view shown on postcards of the city at the start of the twentieth century. Today the significance of this view is once again being recognised in its protection and designation as a place with tremendous views of the city. The enjoyment of this and other key views are of importance to those living and working but they also have the potential to form part of the visitor / tourist experience of the city. New walking routes, taking in key views and areas / visitor attractions, could lead people around the city and show off the city’s best side, such as taking people up Saint Patrick’s Hill to Bell’s Field. The upgrading of the Bell’s Field area would therefore be of benefit of residents and visitors alike, and this route could connect to Collin’s Barracks and Shandon.
Views and prospects will be protected through the planning application process, with developers now being asked to demonstrate the impact of their proposed developments on protected and locally important views. The provision of accurate Visual Impact Assessments will help inform planning decisions, and the protection of views of special amenity will now be an important consideration in shaping development proposals and the future of Cork city.
The following documents are available in PDF format:Variation No.3 – Cork City Views and Prospects (1,831KB)
Image courtesy of Michael Linehan
The Planning and Development (Strategic Environmental Assessment) Regulations 2004 (SI No. 435 of 2004) require Strategic Environmental Assessments in the case of Variations to development plans where they are likely to give rise to significant environmental effects. A formal “Screening” is required under the Regulations in the case of Variations of Development Plans to determine whether the policy would be likely to have significant effects on the environment.. A Screening involves formal consideration of:
Having completed a Screening Cork City Council has determined that a Strategic Environmental Assessment is not necessary for the Draft Variation (No.3) of the Cork City Development Plan 2004 – Cork City Views & Prospects as it is considered that the implementation of the material amendments to the development plan would not be likely to have significant effects on the environment.
This decision has been taken having regard to the EU Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive (2001/42/EC) and the Guidelines for Regional Authorities and Planning Authorities (November 2004) from the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. Cork City Council consulted the Environmental Authorities (in this case the Environmental Protection Agency) as part of the “Screening” process and received no adverse comments regarding the environmental implications of the proposed material amendment. The material amendments to the development plan are considered to be positive changes to the planning policy framework for the city, will have a positive impact on the planning and sustainable development of the city, and overall are considered to have a positive impact on the environment. It is envisaged that they will be instrumental in protecting Cork’s natural and built environment, and what is special about the Cork and its landscape, cityscape, riverscape, built heritage and streets of significance.