Minister challenges Kildare councillors on Celbridge plan

Zoning decisions questioned at Donaghcumper

Henry Bauress

Reporter:

Henry Bauress

Email:

henry.bauress@leinsterleader.ie

Minister challenges Kildare councillors on Celbridge plan

Kildare County Council HQ in Naas

THE draft Celbridge Local Area Plan will now be decided upon by the full Kildare County Council after the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, described it has seriously defective.

A key element of the draft LAP was the decision by local councillors in the Celbridge- Leixlip District, on April 26, to  narrowly vote 4-3 against a proposed plan to extend Celbridge town centre into Donaghcumber demesne.

This followed large public support for maintaining open space at Donaghcumper and land near Castletown House. 

On June 14, the Department wrote to the Council saying, effectively, that it had not followed the recommended sequential zoning of lands in some area of the town and that it could not understand its logic.

It has zoned land further out from the town centre, at Crodaun and at the Maynooth road, and not zoned other land nearer to the town.

The Department said that the proposals for Donaghcumper were the only one which could allow for the expansion of Celbridge town centre and was a logical growth proposal for the town.

It also said that some housing proposals would require the building of a second bridge across the Liffey.

The Department said that the Minister would use his powers if the plan was not changed.

Officials told councillors that if a municipal decision affected the full Council, the matter would be referred to the full Council to decide.

Already the Leixlip draft plan has been referred to the full Council.

Now the Celbridge one will be.

In April, Cllr Anthony Larkin had proposed the town extension into Donaghcumper be deleted against the advice Council planners who argued that while the land was part of the Donaghcumper demesne, it was not part of the designated parkland historically associated with Donaghcumper House.

Cllr Larkin told the the Leader after Monday’s meeting he was disappointed with the decision and called on the Minister to visit Celbridge and see the area for himself.

There has been substantial public support for the decision on Donaghcumper, he said.

Cllr Larkin questioned the role of district councils. Is it just box ticking we do? he asked.

In April, planners said that this was an “excellent opportunity” to expand the town centre, by providing a pedestrian link and a new street connecting the Main Street to St Wolstan’s Shopping Centre, where Supervalu is located.

They said the extent of the proposed town centre was reduced from previous Local Area Plans and the lands were not part of the landscape setting of Castletown House.

Cllr Anthony Larkin was supported by Cllrs Kevin Byrne, Michael Coleman and Ide Cussen.

Cllr Brendan Young, who was supported by Cllrs Joe Neville and Bernard Caldwell in the ultimate vote, had said the area should be subject to a Master Plan only if it was proven to contribute to the recovery of the town centre. He would prioritise housing there instead of retail and 10% of that should be for the elderly.

In April the Chief Executive’s report said it was against the zoning objective to apply restrictions on the mix of uses on lands that are in private ownership.

Cllr Ide Cussen opposed house building there.

Planners said the then defeated plan would link the new neighbourhoods across the bridge to the town centre.

Director of Services, Peter Minnock, told the April meeting that the members could be exposed legally by a decision to scrap the town extension plan, because of commitments made previously under the current plan, and when it came to the final vote, asked that the names of those voting be recorded.

He said there were reasonable expectations by developers that development would take place close to the town centre.

Cllr Bernard Caldwell, Municipal District chairman, said the extension would bring access to the public to the river Liffey, which was not there at the moment. “We do nothing about the Liffey,” he said.

In April, the committee agreed a different motion to enable a “masterplan”  condition for the area to written up and put before the members and was defeated on a 4-3 vote.