THE adoption of draft regional planning guidelines would deliver a hammer blow to economic development in Clare, a local councillor has warned.
Councillor PJ Kelly delivered a stinging attack on the promotion of Limerick City at the expense of Clare and other counties in the Mid-West, following the publication of the guidelines by the Mid-West Regional Authority.
The Lissycasey councillor claimed at a council meeting on Monday that most of the provisions in the Mid-West guidelines were contrary to the draft Clare County Development Plan.
One of the key recommendations of the guidelines is that all planning authorities should recognise the importance of Limerick City centre as the key retail centre of the region and should have particular regard to the impact of retailing in the city centre of any proposal for a net increase in retail floor space.
“It is important for Limerick City to maintain its dominant retail function at the top of the Mid-West hierarchy and to recapture some of the market share it has lost to other centres.
“It is also essential for the provision of new retail development to be co-ordinated across the region, to create a balanced pattern of provision in accordance with the broad objectives of the National Development Plan, in particular, sustainable national economic and employment growth, the promotion of social inclusion and the enhancement of gateways and hubs,” the guidelines stated.
Councillor Kelly pointed out that the guidelines failed to promote the economic potential of the northern bank of the Shannon Estuary and ports such as Kilrush, Cahercon, Kildysart and Moneypoint.
“Only that the document includes the word draft, I would describe it as daft. If we accept these regional planning guidelines, our own Clare County Development Plan will go out the window.
“Economic development for North and East Clare should be locally based, which the guidelines don’t address. Clare County Council needs to come up with its own response to this document,” he said.
Councillor Christy Curtin said there seemed to be a trend towards centralising a number of facilities and developments into a regional structure at the expense of rural areas, which he opposed.
“Councillor Kelly has issued a challenge for this council to respond,” he added.
County manager, Tom Coughlan stated it was important to ensure that regional planning guidelines don’t conflict with the Clare County Development Plan.
He agreed to a proposal from Councillor Kelly for a meeting with all the Clare members of the Mid-West Regional Authority and local senior planners to draw up a formal response.