CLARE councillors are calling for more flexibility to be applied to increase the amount of land that is zoned for residential development in the county.
Following official sanction for the completion of the final part of the €58 million of the Limerick Northern Distributor Road Coonagh to Knockalisheen Road, Councillor P J Ryan said a lot of land on the N18 from Lansdowne to the Radisson Hotel should be zoned for commercial and residential development.
Councillor Ryan said there are hundreds of acres of council land near Shannon Airport that should be zoned for residential development, excluding the so-called red zone.
He said company directors in Shannon wanted to build houses in places like Ballycasey but can’t get a site.
Every extra house that is built will pay Local Property Tax to the local authority while more housing will result in an increase in population that will in turn support businesses and generate more income for the council and the county.
One of the strategic aims of the Clare County Development Plan 2017 to 2023 is to ensure adequate land is zoned to meet the population needs of the county in compliance with core strategy and population targets.
According to the CCDP, this is achieved through local area plans containing detailed land-use zonings and master-planning of neighbourhoods in an evidenced-based, plan-led approach with a focus on ensuring a high quality of life.
Councillor Johnny Flynn outlined there are 55 towns and villages in Clare without any public wastewater treatment facilities, and it looked as if Irish Water isn’t interested in investing in any new locations.
The Ennis Councillor said the council should consider providing package treatment plants that would provide wastewater treatment facilities for smaller housing developments of between 10 and 20 houses in rural towns and villages.
He proposed the relocation of Clarecastle flood relief barrage south of Roche would eliminate flooding and open up 300 acres of land for development from the Quin Road to Clarecastle.
Councillor Flynn has made a number of proposals to different national and regional economic framework documents seeking infrastructural investments in water, wastewater, health services and roads totalling €2 billion, including €650 million for the Ennis Municipal District over a ten-year period.
He pointed out different plans have outlined the population of Ennis should grow by about 9,000 by 2040.
P J Kelly recalled former Environment Minister Eoghan Murphy issued an order that zoning has to be removed from all lands that are not serviced by public wastewater systems, which impacts Lissycasey, Kilmihil, Cooraclare, Cree and Kilkee.
“Rural areas will suffer as a result on this order. It is a contradiction in terms. On the one hand there is a plan to develop towns and villages without mentioning rural areas. At the same time, they will not allow land to be zoned.
“Every bit of zoning will be removed under the new regulation because we haven’t public wastewater but we have perfect percolation.
“The idea of selling land under the speed limit for housing is gone under the Murphy decree.
“There is an idea that you go into a village and turn a shop that was there for 200 years into habitable dwellings. This can’t be done.
“How can you convert an old shop in the village of Kilmihil or Kildysart with the front door touching the path into a habitable dwelling? You can’t even park a car outside it. It is unrealistic.
It is not practical in modern times,” he said.
As part of the new Clare County Development Plan review process, the council will be setting new development and environmental protection objectives for the 2022 – 2028 period.
Part of this review will include the setting of an urban hierarchy within the county and the allocation of population growth in accordance with the new core strategy. The new CDP drafting process is currently underway and it is hoped that the new draft CDP will be advertised for public display next August.
Director of service, Liam Conneally stated the county’s population growth and quantum of zoning will be evidence based. Census data, the National Planning Framework and the Southern Assembly’s RSES will inform this process.
Public submissions on zoning will be an important part of this process. The growth and regeneration of our towns and villages will be an important objective in the new plan. In this the new plan will support the principle of compact growth and the re-use of vacant and underutilised sites and buildings in existing urban areas.
Mr Conneally encourages the public to voice their opinions on the future growth direction and development of urban and rural areas of County Clare and these views will be taken into account in the new plan preparation process.
Engagement between the council and Irish Water on matters of water and waste water treatment infrastructure in towns and villages will be an important consideration for the future zoning of lands in the county.
The new requirements regarding a tiered zoning requirement in the Government’s National Planning Framework will also inform this process.