Heated row as council agrees to dezone land

A HEATED row yesterday flared up at yet another controversial “dezoning” meeting of Kerry County Council, which adopted a draft area plan for Killorglin.

On the third attempt, agreement was reached on dezoning 370 acres of land from residential to rural general.

Amid warnings that developers would be bankrupted, councillors have objected strongly to proposals by planners to dezone thousands of acres of over-zoned residential land across Kerry.

But the main argument yesterday arose from a disclosure that a three-acre parcel of land, which the council had agreed to accept from a private developer for social housing in Killorglin town, was “not appropriate” for housing.

Under the part five obligation of the Planning and Development Act, 20% of private residential developments, land or financial equivalent, have to be handed over to local authorities for social housing purposes.

Council planners proposed that the three acres, off the Rangue Road, be dezoned from residential to tourism and leisure. This was in order to free up other parcels of land which councillors wanted to remain zoned residential. However, Sinn Féin councillor, Toireasa Ferris, accused the council of seeking to dezone local authority-owned lands “to suit private developers” and said she strongly disagreed with this.

“Why did management accept the land for social housing if it was inappropriate for development?” she asked.

Ms Ferris and other councillors repeatedly asked management to state to how many people were on the social housing waiting list in Killorglin. It later emerged that 137 people in the immediate town area are waiting for houses.

Director of planning, Michael McMahon, said the situation with regard to social housing had changed utterly and it was very unlikely the Rangue land would be needed for housing in the life of the new five-year plan.

Because of its location and the difficulty with sewerage, the land was not appropriate for social housing, he said.

County manager, Tom Curran, defended his staff against any insinuations that private developers were being facilitated in Killorglin.

He further stated the land was suitable for housing, but sewage would have to be pumped out of it.

Fine Gael councillor, Pat McCarthy, said storm water could also be a problem and the land might be subject to flooding.

By a 15 to 10 majority, councillors voted against the proposal to dezone the Rangue social housing land from residential to tourism and leisure.

The new draft area plan for the Killorglin area was adopted and will now go out to public consultation.

The council, which in recent years zoned six times more land in Kerry than is needed for housing, has already dezoned 600 acres in Kenmare.

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