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Green light for Tulla social housing development

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A CONTROVERSIAL social housing development for Tulla is to proceed, after the approval of a Part 8 planning application at this month’s meeting of Clare County Council.

The scheme will see 22 homes built at a site in Doonaun in a mix of apartments and houses. The green light was given despite 17 local objections – one of which included a petition signed by 45 local residents – and the decision of Councillor Pat Hayes to vote against the application, when it came before local authority members.

The scheme was the subject of some controversy earlier this year when a number of residents sought what is known a ‘screening determination’ from An Bord Pleanála, insisting that the local authority should have submitted a full Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) with the plans. Other residents made submissions directly to the council citing concerns over flooding, the capacity of water services, infringement of privacy and noise disturbance that might be created because of a walkway proposed to connect the new development to the village.

When the appeals board found in favour of the county council, and ruled that an EIA was not needed, the application was presented to members last Monday. The plans were proposed by Killaloe Municipal District Chairperson, Councillor Pat Burke and seconded by Councillor Tony O’Brien at the meeting last Monday, which was held without members of the media present, in the interests of social distancing and other restrictions arising from the Covid-19 crisis.

While Councillor Hayes expressed his opposition to the development on the grounds of water and sewage service deficiencies and the risk of flooding to properties near the site, he failed to secure backing for his concerns.

“In principal, I have nothing against social housing and it is needed in Tulla,” Councillor Hayes later told The Champion. “There are a number of vacant homes in the village and a relatively high level of dereliction. I know that the council is dealing with that issue, but at the same time, I would like to see more of those existing houses brought back into use. I am disappointed that approval was given to this application when I continue to have concerns that haven’t yet been addressed. These include the fact that this site is prone to flooding and residents believe there is now a risk to nearby properties. Issues still remain about the capacity of the water supply in Tulla. I accept that some improvement work have been carried out on the mains by Irish Water, but we are still depending on drawing water from Broadford. We have been in communication several times with Irish Water and I’m still not fully convinced that supply is adequate for this and other planned developments for Tulla.”

Councillor Hayes acknowledged that he would have to accept the outcome of the democratic consultation process, and noted that the council CEO had committed to addressing any issues that might arise.

Clare County Council has indicated, on its website, that the decision on the plans will be finalised on April 16. Under Part 8 of the Planning and Development Act, there is no process for appealing decisions to An Bord Pleanála.

A spokesperson for the council said: “The next stage is to tender the project and we intend to launch the tender in the coming weeks. Due to COVID-19 restrictions on construction works we are unable to give an indicative construction commencement date at this time. We are hopeful that construction can commence on this site before year end however the time lines are dependent on the public health restrictions to manage COVID-19.”

 

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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