HOUSING applicants seeking affordable accommodation in South-East Clare have been dealt a major blow following confirmation plans have been shelved for a major multi-million Euro housing development in Meelick.
The Clare Champion can reveal that Clare County Council is not actively pursuing the development of 70 housing units containing a mix of badly needed social and affordable houses on zoned land.
According to official correspondence from the Department of the Housing, which has been obtained by the ‘Champion, the council’s finance section confirmed in early March the local authority were not progressing the Meelick lands further.
In June 2019, the council sought approval to borrow €6 million to purchase ten sites across the county for housing development.
The Clare Champion has learned the loan application also included €2 million for unidentified sites as well as the Meelick site.
The department decided it wasn’t possible to sanction a loan request for sites that had not been identified at the time of the application.
The council received loan approval totalling €3 million for the purchase of lands at nine different sites in the county, excluding Meelick.
The department expressed concern the Meelick site is situated within a small residential area that is isolated from local services, has severely limited public transport and hasn’t adequate existing sewerage facilities to facilitate the proposed housing development.
It claimed the scale of the proposed development is contrary to the department’s guidelines on sustainable communities, which seek to provide social housing on a scale proportionate to the size and demand in the existing population.
Given the very limited access to facilities, the department noted the council would have to demonstrate that no other lands are available within other large villages in the county, which are better located by virtue of being within walking distance of a wider range of facilities and have no services uncertainties.
It noted the council would also have to demonstrate a high need by way of approved social housing applicants, who have expressed a specific preference for Ballycannon North Meelick.
Responding to queries, the council stated the Department of Housing had expressed concerns about the capacity of the settlement to cater for a development of this scale on receipt of the loan sanction request.
The authority confirmed it hasn’t developed the project appraisal for approval as it couldn’t proceed to development without loan approval.
The department had not responded to Clare Champion queries at the time of going to press.