CLARE County Council is intending to ‘freeze’ over 4,000 acres zoned for housing around Ennis from development in response to Department of Environment concerns of “unjustified and unsustainable” overzoning.
In a letter to the council, the department has set a deadline of October 16 for the authority to address the overzoning for housing in the Ennis Development Plan.
The department has warned that if the council has not provided a solution by October 16, “the Minister for the Environment, John Gormley TD, will in the interests of proper planning and development of Clare and the midwest be forced to direct the council to make the necessary changes to the adopted plan with immediate effect”.
In the letter, senior department official David Walsh warns: “Furthermore, it is vital that the council refrain from making imprudent decisions in the intervening period that would exacerbate the concerns of the minister and the department.”
The department has stated that there are 4,500 acres of zoned land around Ennis to cater for a population increase of 100,000.
Currently, the Ennis area has a population of 28,700 and official forecasts state that there will be a population increase of only 6,300 up until 2020.
In a memo to councillors, senior planner with the council, Gordon Daly, has stated that the department is of the view “there is clearly a very substantial, unjustified and unsustainable amount of overzoning of land with residential potential”.
To resolve this problem, the council has identified 187 acres of land, which in addition to a further 142 acres of land with existing permissions for 1,596 homes, would provide for a population increase of 10,600 during the lifetime of the current housing plan, which runs until 2014.
The solution means that during the lifetime of the current plan no housing development would take place on the remaining 4,171 acres of zoned land.
The department is also requiring the deletion of policies relating to the sale of sites, in depth development and infill sites.
Council planners have held meetings with councillors behind closed doors regarding the department’s concerns and proposals are expected to be put before the county council meeting in October.
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