by Gordon Deegan
The Minister for State for Housing and Urban Development, Damien English has trained his sights on one local authority he has deemed not doing enough to help solve the country’s housing crisis.
This follows Minister English taking the rare step of issuing a Ministerial direction to Kildare County Council ordering it to zone more land for housing in the town of Leixlip - the Irish base of chip giant, Intel.
Minister English has accused the County Council of breaching the Planning and Development Act and ignoring a previous plea he made to zone additional lands for housing in Leixlip prompting him to now use powers under Section 31 of the Planning and Development Act.
The Minister has directed Kildare County Council to revise its Leixlip Local Area Plan as currently it has zoned land for only an additional 1,400 homes to 2023.
The Minister has told the local authority that the zoned land for 1,400 new homes “is a significant shortfall” on the 3,300 target as required by the Core Strategy of the Kildare County Development Plan.
Mr English pointed out that the removal by the Council of the "significant" Celbridge Road East and Confey land parcels from the zoned housing lands in the local area plan “resulted in a substantial reduction in the overall potential housing development in Leixlip”.
The Minister points out that the quantum of housing lands was reduced to less than 40 hectares.
The Minister said that the Council went against the advice of its own chief executive and himself in not zoning those two parcels of land for housing.
Mr English states: “The Planning Authority therefore has failed to provide zoned residential lands in the Leixlip Local Area Plan 2017-23 sufficient to meet the housing allocation requirement in the core strategy of the Kildare County Development 2017-23.”
As a result, the Minister has stated that the local area plan is not in compliance with Development Plan guidelines.
The Minister has also accused the Council of failing to provide zoned residential lands capable of providing the required housing growth at locations prioritised in national planning guidelines.
Minister English has given the council a six-month deadline to come with a new local area plan that meets the objective of zoning land for 3,315 new housing units as laid out in the Kildare County Development Plan.