AN illegal encampment may jeapordise the future of a planned development of social housing in Ennis, it is feared.
Plans are underway by the council to build 40 housing units at Ashline to, according to the council, “address the high needs in the Ennis area”.
However, a family has set up an illegal encampment in a nearby laneway regularly used as a shortcut to Ennis National School.
Last month Clare County Council assisted the gardaí in removing the barriers after parents told how their young children didn’t feel safe going to school along the route.
Members of the Ennis Municipal District voiced their concerns at their monthly meeting where plans for the housing development proposal at Ashline were outlined.
A preliminary public consultation meeting about the development is set to be held on Tuesday next, June 19 in the Temple Gate Hotel from 6pm to 7.30pm.
While councillors welcomed the plans, they highlighted the need for the illegal encampment to be dealt with.
Councillor Clare Colleran Molloy stated that she has witnessed audio and video recordings showing parents of children being harassed as they try to use the laneway.
Councillor Ann Norton stated that consultation will be “crucial” in getting the scheme off the ground. “I am concerned that if and when we get to building stage that we could have a problem with the fact that there are illegal residents in the laneway. If you look at the amount of money that is being put into the development, and it will be so positive to have housing at the end. But there could be a stumbling block because of the illegal encampment. They are causing problems now, what’s going to change?
“Are they going to move on when the building starts or drive the builders demented? We need to have a plan in place to make sure they are removed. This could be dragged out for years on end and we will have no housing left at the end of it because of one particular family getting their way and dictating to Clare County Council what we can and cannot do. It would be an awful shame.”
Councillor Johnny Flynn urged that the adjoining lands owned by the diocese by bought and taken under the control of the council.
Councillor Pat Daly insisted that the design of the new houses would be very important as there had previously been anti-social behaviour in the area. He said that the residents of nearby Woodhaven are “very worried.”
Councillor James Breen asked that the bylaws for illegal parking be brought before the council for discussion at the next meeting.
Councillor Mary Howard stated that “public consultation is key” to the new housing project. Director of service Carmel Kirby stated that the council will look into the possibility of taking in charge the adjoining lands.
The council acquired 0.683 of zoned residential and low density residential lands from the Killaloe Diocese with the intention of combining this with a 0.93 ha adjacent site already in the council’s ownership in order to develop a social housing scheme. In 2017 the council applied to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government for funding for the 40 units at Ashline. There are currently 1,112 applicants on the housing list for Ennis. The department sanctioned an all inclusive budget to the sum of €7,854,000. House types proposed are 20 three bed, three four bed and 17 two bed, including two special needs units.