05 Jul 2022

BREAKING: Official watchdog attacks plans for residential development in a Kildare town

'Out of proportion'

BREAKING: Official watchdog attacks plans for residential development in a Kildare town

Clane: The quantity of residential development voted for by councillors has been criticised

Kildare County Council has been criticised by a State watchdog over a proposal which would lead to a rate of residential construction which is out of proportion.

The deputy head at the Office of the Planning Regulator Anne Marie O’Connor has told KCC that the local area plan for Clane, which oversees the overall development of the town, needs to be reviewed.

She believes that moving Clane to a tier 3 (self sustaining town) classification from tier 4 (town)  - as part of the draft Kildare county development plan 2023-2029 - is not justified.

The redesignation was voted through by a majority of local councillors (18-14).

Tier 3 towns like Celbridge, Maynooth and Monasterevin all have rail stations.

“Clane is not served by a rail or an alternative high quality public transport corridor,” she said.

Read more Kildare plans

In a comprehensive letter sent to KCC, Ms O’Connor also highlighted the low ratio of jobs to resident workers showing “high levels of outbound commuting and a weak employment base.”

She pointed out that the current local area plan for Clane refers to it as a “small town” and states that the growth rate should be controlled. Ms O’Connor is responsible for assessing all local authority development plans and local area plans.

A local resident said if this move is not revisited “it will lock in car dependency, which goes against trends everywhere.”

The submission also pointed out that a number of housing developments (up to seven), which are underway or in the planning ,could provide over 1,000 housing units.

The current plan envisaged some 1,026 homes.

This will produce a growth rate which will exceed government guidelines.

The OPR also said there is a “high probability” that the Clane population of 7,280 in 2016 will exceed 30% - and therefore a breach of national policy objectives, which state that this shouldn’t happen before 2040.

The 7,280 figure is itself a quadrupling of the population since 1991.

“There is a real danger that Clane will grow at a rate that is disproportionate to the capacity of the social and physical infrastructure to meet the needs of the community,” said Ms O’Connor, adding “(it) will result in car-dependent travel patterns contrary to national strategic outcomes  for sustainable mobility and the transition to a low carbon and climate resilient society.”

Separately, a number of significant building companies have claimed they could be forced to halt the construction of new homes and freeze sites in County Kildare because housing targets for the Dublin commuter belt, which takes in swathes of County Kildare, are too limiting.

This is despite an unprecedented amount of residential development underway and, in addition, approved for parts of the county. At the same time vital infrastructure  like primary and schools are under pressure to cope with the demand for places and traffic congestion is a problem in all the major towns.

Data produced by the Department of Housing shows Kildare has the second highest rate of home building in the country so far this year, only marginally behind the South Dublin County Council area.

Builders Cairn, Glenveagh, Ballymore and O’Flynn, who made the claim, have already built 3,000 homes within Kildare in the past five years.

They argue that the need for new homes is greater than the draft plan suggests, according to The Irish Times, but KCC says the plan was prepared in line with ministerial rules for housing supply targets and “other national policies.”

Property growth rates are issued to local authorities by the Department of Housing and Local Government and the national framework, adopted by the government four years ago, sets out how Ireland can move away from the “business as usual development pattern.” This means that it seeks to disrupt trends that have been apparent for the last fifty years and have accelerated over the past twenty. 

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