Cobh Urban Design Feasibility Study

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An Urban Design and Development Strategy for the Cobh Waterfront The town of Cobh has a unique combination of maritime heritage, dramatic topography and a spectacular setting overlooking Cork Harbour. Cork Harbour, located in the south of the Republic of Ireland, is one of largest natural harbours in the world. The essential strategy for the development of Cobh should be to leverage this “historical DNA” to position itself as an attractive and lively place to live, to work and to visit. The focus of the study is the Cobh Waterfront, stretching from Rushbrooke Dockyards to Cove Fort. The Study Area includes historic Cobh, which contains the most sensitive elements of the town, but also the most attractive for residents and visitors. The primary aim of the urban design development strategy is to improve the town for the residents of the Cobh. The vision is to create a vibrant heart for Cobh where residents can identify with and be proud of; a heart that contains a variety of uses and public spaces that the townspeople can enjoy spending time in; and a revitalized maritime and historic heritage that the people of Cobh can share with the many visitors that come to the town. As mentioned at the beginning of this document, the overall strategy for the development of the Cobh Waterfront is as a “string of pearls”. In appraising the Study Area, six “character” or “focal areas” were identified. These are: • Town Centre (Westbourne Place to East Beach and Cathedral Plaza.) • Rushbrooke Docks • Whitepoint • Waterfront West (Westbourne Place to White Point) • Waterfront East (Old Town Hall to Pilot Harbour) • Cove Fort Each of these focal areas has distinctive character and meaning associated with their location, built and urban form, and past use: The Town Centre is the “crown jewel” of Cobh, with a strong retail component. Rushbrooke Dockyard has a long association with industry and employment. White Point is a residential and family leisure area. Waterfront West is associated with movement of people, trains and liners, etc. Historical meanings need to be taken into account and enhanced so that they continue to be significant to the residents of Cobh. The size and scale of the individual interventions on each site is varied, according to the availability of land and the plot sizes. Any new development should relate to and enhance the existing qualities of Cobh. A living and healthy town continues to evolve, so this means the introduction of appropriate new elements as well. Overall Urban Design Objectives • Enhance the Town Centre and the waterfront areas as attractive places and spaces for the residents and visitors. • Respect, improve and enhance the public realm with special attention given to a variety of public interaction with the water’s edge. • Encourage development that relates to and enhances the qualities in the different focal areas or “pearls”, while also introducing appropriate new elements. • Create a ‘living’ Cobh with an appropriate balances and mix of uses in the different focal areas, including employment centres, marines and other water-based recreational facilities. • Encourage walking, cycling, use of railway, and universal access. • Adopt appropriate parking standards, regulations and implementation policies. • Manage ‘flows’ of people, vehicles, trains, boats, etc. • Create a linear public realm along the entire length of waterfront from Rushbrooke to Cobh Fort that is linked to the surrounding residential areas, and beyond. • Relate new developments in the waterfront area to the surrounding context in terms of scale, massing, form, materials and details. • The details, materials, colour palette, detailing and workmanship should be the same quality and spirit of the existing buildings. • The distinctive Cobh skyline of horizontal levels of terraces rising up along the steep topography, and crowned by the Cathedral should be respected and maintained. New developments should not intrude above each level except as features to enhance the overall townscape. • Building heights must be appropriate to street width and allow sufficient daylight and to respect existing view corridors. In general, building heights in limited to 3- to 4-storey • Respect and maintain existing views corridors within the town and over Cork Harbour • Appropriate densities in the town centre. Encourage more people to live in the town centre through “living above the shop”, innovative planning and design, etc. • New development to be as close to carbon neutral as possible both in terms of its construction, operation and maintenance, and allow Cobh residents to live as environmentally as possible in their everyday activities. Technical Assessments and Recommendations Supporting the overall development strategy are two complementary technical assessments developed by the consultants of the Design Team as part of the Study: the marina assessment, and the transport and traffic assessment. The first part of the Marina Assessment and Recommendations is the overview of the existing marina situation and coastal conditions in Cork Harbour. This is followed by technical assessment of the potential marina locations to identify the best location/s and pattern for the development of one or more marinas and ancillary berthing facilities along the Cobh waterfront. The Transport & Traffic Analysis and Recommendations begins with an analysis of the existing transport and traffic conditions. This is followed by recommendations for movement strategy, car parking provision and regulations etc, taking into account the potential impact of the proposed urban design interventions.


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