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Public urged to engage with draft Development Plan

THREE North Clare councillors have tabled a motion urging people to inform themselves about the changes proposed in the new Draft County Development Plan.
At the December meeting of the local authority, Councillors Joe Killeen, Shane Talty and Joe Garrihy asked for an outline of arrangements for information and consultation sessions.
They also sought clarity on proposed taxes on vacant, zoned sites, “to give confidence to relevant landowners”.
Proposing the motion, Councillor Joe Killeen said it is vital that members of the public inform themselves.
“This plan is going to last until 2029 so it is significant,” he said.
Councillor Garrihy noted that “long, hard process of workshops” had gone into producing the draft.
“I think all of our strategies – Housing for All, our tourism strategy – everything is impacted upon and needs to converge in a joined up way. The more engagement we get with our communities on this the better.”
Councillor Killeen noted that the draft plan is on public display until March 28. He urged people to look at the plan, which is on display at a number of locations, and to attend information events taking place in January and February. “The venues are Áras Chontae an Chláir in Ennis, Shannon Municipal District, West Clare Municipal District Office in Kilrush, Ennistymon Area Office, the municipal district office in Scariff and also the public libraries,” he outlined.
“There will also be public consultation opportunities at Lisdoonvarna Pavillion; the Scout Hall in Ennis; Clonlara Community Sport and Leisure Centre; Kilkee Community Hall; Killaloe Hotel and Spa, Clarecastle Community Hall; Kilmihil Community Hall; Tulla Cultural Centre and Newmarket-on-Fergus Community Hall.”
He added that after the extension of time secured to draft the plan, it was particularly important that the public engaged.
“What we would like really, after a long time debating the issue, is that people would look at how it’s going to influence the development of the local areas,” he said.
“I think it’s important that people would come out, particularly people who have the land that is now zoned and see if they are happy, as well as people who would like to see their lands developed.”
Councillor Cillian Murphy said that he had learned at a recent workshop on regenerative tourism training that parish newsletters are still one of the most effective ways of getting people’s attention.
“Maybe we should consider putting details into the newsletters,” he said. “It’s interesting, with all the digital stuff, the parish newsletter is still the one.”
Councillor Pat Hayes said it was “critically important” for the public to engage. “Every community is affected in some way by this,” he said. “People need to make themselves fully aware.”
In a written response on the issue of tax on vacant sites, Director of Service for Economic Development Liam Conneally said he has sought clarification from the Department on how the new Zoned Land Tax, which comes into effect in 2023, will impact the future of the existing Vacant Site Levy.
“The detail of the residential land zoning tax is not yet known though I understand that it will be an annual tax based on a percentage of the market value of land and that Revenue will collect the tax,” the reply stated. He said that pending the release of the new Finance Act to create the new tax, he would brief the elected members as soon as possible.
Mr Conneally thanked the councillors for the motion on the draft plan and said that any publicity to promote engagement is to be welcomed.
Submissions to the draft plan can be made online, with details on Clarecoco.ie; or by posting a submission addressed to: Draft Clare County Development Plan 2023-2029, Planning Department, Clare County Council, New Road, Ennis, Co Clare. V95 DXP2.
Emails can be sent to devplan@clarecoco.ie. The subject headline should read ‘Submission to Draft Clare County Development Plan 2023-2029’.

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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