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Planners question Clare village’s capacity for more housing

CONCERNS have been raised by planners over the amount of housing development in Crusheen, given the level of community, educational and commercial services currently available. 

The Council outlined that view in a Further Information (FI) request to developers who are seeking permission for the fourth large-scale housing estate in the village in recent years. The authority warned that the intensity of housing development proposed may not be suited to the village. 

Woodhaven Developments lodged plans last December for 42 more homes on a site on the Gort side of Crusheen. The company said the estate represented the next phase of a masterplan for lands close to the village centre, that are zoned for mixed use and transport utilities.

While Woodhaven said the plan was in line with the target of boosting Crusheen’s population, planners have now warned that appropriate services may not be in place to serve additional housing.

In a detailed FI request, planners said that when three housing developments already granted permission are considered, the current application could “constitute an intensity of residential development unsuited to a ‘large village’ which may not presently have the range of community, educational or commercial services to support such development”. 

Planners have asked Woodhaven to address these concerns “and demonstrate that the social infrastructure of [the] village of Crusheen has the capacity to absorb additional residential development of the scale currently proposed’. 

In addition, planners have also asked for clarity on the connection from Irish Water; permission from ESB Networks for works close to overhead lines; treatment of the south western boundary of the site; management of surface water and visitor parking. 

Separately the Department of Housing’s Development Applications Unit (DAU) has raised concerns about the proximity of the site to two national monuments: an enclosure and a Mass Rock. It has recommended a number of steps be taken to protect them and to document any archaeological finds, in the event that planning permission is granted. 

In a detailed design statement submitted with the application, Woodhaven outlined plans to begin construction on the homes immediately after the completion of the Cluain Fia estate and the granting of an acceptable planning permission”.

The company estimated that completion of the estate would take 36 months and represent an investment of €10.3 million, and the creation of 42 jobs. Discussions on the provision of social housing have taken place with the Housing Section of the council and Woodhavens application stated that: social housing will be delivered in line with current legislation”. 

Earlier in 2021, Woodhaven secured planning permission for another site in the heart of Crusheen. Those lands are earmarked for a residential estate as well as retail and office units. In respect of the current application, the developers said it would add an additional population base to strengthen the future mixed use development”. The company has also pledged to consult the community as to the possible uses of that facility.

In the application, the company acknowledged the councils aim of seeing a streetscape created in Crusheen and said its design approach would be respectful of the distinctive personality” of the mid-nineteenth century vernacular architecture of the village.

It also outlined how the scale would be in keeping with existing development in the village and how the estate will have connectivity to the village centre for pedestrians and cyclists.

Woodhaven added that their current application is in line with the strategy of consolidating development within the existing footprint of the village and the achievement of more sustainable climate resilient communities”. 

The developers now have six months to respond to the Council’s FI request. 

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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