The Tank Field as the only flat green public space in North East Cork City
5. “The article began by stating that the only public green space in the northeast of Cork city is the Tank Field. This is patently untrue. The site identified for the school comprises 2.5 acres of an 11-acre site.”
“The Glen, a civic community area is a seven minute walk from this site.”
Cork City Council Plans for Site
The 2.5 acres is part of a larger 11.8 acre site. But the allocation of the 2.5 acres to Gaelscoil An Ghoirt Álainn was the first step of the Cork City Council plan that would transfer the pitch area on long term lease to the GAA club and the subsequent fencing off of the pitch, which would therefore limit communal access to the community which traditionally used the Tank Field.
The existing open flat space will be built on and the remainder of the existing site, according to the plans submitted, will be fenced in and thereby the open access will be removed. The overall area would consequently be under the control of the Gaelscoil and the GAA club and the public could only use it on their terms, if at all, due to potential concerns about public liability insurance, protection of the pitch, etc.
The Glen is far more than a seven minute walk from the Tank Field. To go from the Tank Field to the Glen is 1 kilometre. More significantly one has to descend three long steep hills to get there and face them again on the way back. The Tank Field is 400 feet above sea level while the Glen area is 150 feet above sea level. One has to descend 250 feet to get to the Glen.
Because of the topography (link attached) and, the distance and the remoteness from housing, the Glen is much less used area. It is local knowledge that elderly people or children are rarely on their own there and is locally regarded as wholly inappropriate for the purposes which the Tank Field currently provides. In contrast, the Tank Field is flat, central, very easily accessible and safe. I am informed that, because of the remoteness and distance of the Glen from housing, parents would be reluctant to allow their children to go the Glen on their own. How many parents of children attending Gaelscoil An Ghoirt Álainn allow their children to play in the Glen? Would they have the same concerns about their children utilising the Tank Field? These two sites fulfil different functions and this is recognised by the City Council.
In addition, the Cork City Development Plan 2009- 2015 (see link and relevant sections quoted below, pages 138 – 141) has pointed to a deficit in green space in the north-east of Cork City and proposed not only retaining the existing spaces but seeking to develop a new open green area, for example it is hoped that the private estate now owned by the Dominicans becomes available. The plan categories parks in a hierarchy which would place the Tank Field in one of the lower categories of a local or neighbourhood park. The Glen is categorised differently as a district park and serving a different function.
Relevant sections of Cork City Development Plan 2009- 2015 pages 138 – 141
“A deficit in the provision of areas of public open space has been identified in the North-East of the city.”
“It is planned to commence a review and update of the Parks Strategy shortly. This should set out a strategy for the development of parks and public open spaces over the period 2009-2015.A key feature of the strategy will be the concept of a Hierarchy of Parks which looks at parks in terms of their size and walking distance from residential areas. It is hoped that larger and more strategic parks projects would be progressed with detailed proposals regarding facilities or the form these should take e.g. providing sports facilities and grounds, play facilities, walkways/trails etc. In terms of the City Centre, the riverside is a key public space and mainly consists of hard landscaped areas. It is a key element in providing for the public open space needs of the City Centre.”
“Hierarchy of Parks
The principle of a Hierarchy of Parks is considered very useful in ensuring all members of the population have easy access to sufficient parks and areas of public open space which suit their various needs. A general standard of one neighbourhood park of 16 ha (40 acre) and two local parks (approx. 5 acres each) based on population units of 10,000 is taken as acceptable for urban areas. However, it is considered that a wider variety of spaces should be provided for. This includes the provision of areas of public open space ranging from a large City Park serving the needs of the city as a whole to smaller spaces or pocket parks serving smaller communities. While this will be considered in more detail as part of the revised Parks’ Strategy, the general basis for a hierarchy is set out in Figure 11.1. Although it may not be possible to satisfy all layers of the hierarchy in all parts of the city, given that certain areas are largely built-up, it gives a good general idea of what needs exist. It also identifies where deficiencies exist and where parks and public spaces may need to be upgraded or retrofitted and provided as part of new developments. Where parks and public open spaces exist it is important that they are protected. Such areas will therefore be zoned for such purposes or protected through Policy.”
“North-East District Park
A deficit in the provision of areas of public open space has been identified in the North-East of the city. The City Council will look for opportunities to develop areas of both passive and active recreation including areas zoned for open space and as part of the Green Belt area of the County. An area at Saint Dominic’s Retreat Centre, Ennismore has been identified for possible future development of a public park.”