Kildare County Council HQ
KILDARE County Council has voted by a large majority to allow councillors in the Celbridge-Leixlip district to decide on their own Celbridge local area plan following warnings from the Minister for the Environment that it will breach planning guidelines.
The Council voted 21-5 on Friday morning (July 14) to support a motion from Cllr John McGinley that Celbridge-Leixlip MD councillors be allowed us to continue to complete the Celbridge plan process.
The meeting was called following a letter from the Department stating that the proposed plan breached national planning guidelines.
In particular, a rejection by the District, not to agree to a town extension at Donaghcumper demesne was criticised by the Department.
Officials have rejected proposed zonings by the district councillors and would have liked the the Celbridge plan to be decided by the full Council.
At the outset, Cllr Anthony Larkin asked the full Council not “to override the devolved authority of the Municipal District” to make the Celbridge Local Area Plan and take account of the serious implications for eroding the mandate of the MD members to properly consider the final planning reports and to take account of all the issues raised.”
Cllr Larkin said they were elected to represent the reasonable views of the people in the locality and given the issues, yes it has become a significant challenge, but it is not an insurmountable challenge.
He asked that Celbridge-Maynooth MD councillors be allowed us to continue to complete the process. I would not like to be asked to do the same thing for members in another area in the future and I would ask the members to put themselves in our position before taking this vote.
Cllr McGinley said it would be a seriously retrograde step for democracy to take the decision from the District.
Cllr Michael Coleman said that 3,000 people had signed a petition in support of what was agreed by councillors.
But Cllr Bernard Caldwell was against the move. He said he was getting “half threatening” texts about Donaghcomper, which, he said, should be used for the town extension. He said building there will open up public space. Cllr Caldwell said he had not seen alternative proposal to that of the officials for its use, adding that 10% of houses built there would be for social housing.
Cllr Padraig McEvoy said he believed that there may be progress on moves to comply with the possible Ministerial directive.
Cllr Sean Power proposed that the the full Council decide on the plan.
He said they would be negligent if they ignored what the Chief Executive, Peter Carey, said earlier that day (the Council met in committee to be briefed on the situation).
The draft plan was “seriously defective,” said Cllr Power.
Cllr Mark Stafford said he would hopeful of a resolution to comply with any Directives.
CEO Peter Carey said that the councillors operated within a statutory framework and there was no intention to interfere with local democracy. The Council, he said, had gone out of its way to progress local democracy via the Municipal Districts. “The planners have worked extremely hard to try and achieve an acceptable position within the legal framework.”
Mr Carey said if the current proposal are agreed, there will be a Ministerial directive and that will be damaging for the Council’s reputation.
When the vote was taken, the show of hands vote - not a roll call - was 21-5 in favour of the McGinley motion.
It is now expected the District committee will meet on Friday, July 28 to vote on its Celbridge plan.
If the Minister does intervene, there is talk of a potential judicial review, of any Ministerial decision.