1,000 acres of housing land to be dezoned

Almost 1,000 acres currently designated for housing in Kerry’s two biggest towns are to be dezoned because a projected demand for homes won’t exist in the coming years.

Just over 620 acres around Tralee and 345 acres in Killarney currently zoned as residential will soon have no planning status.

After the dezoning measures, there will still be sufficient land earmarked to meet local housing needs, according to Kerry County Council.

The local authority plans to take out of the development process almost 2,000 acres around the county.

Despite numerous warnings from senior management, councillors had continued to approve much of the zoning which took place during the construction boom of the Celtic Tiger.

Projections at the time that the population of the Tralee-Killarney hub would increase by 9,000 had been described by a senior official as “highly optimistic”. He said almost 700 jobs a year would need to be created for that growth to occur.

A report on the public consultation process, relating to dezoning, is due to be presented at a council meeting this month.

Council planning director Michael McMahon said no further land will be zoned for housing in the urban areas of Tralee and Killarney, as more than enough land is available in both towns. The amount of residential zoned land required in the hub, he suggested, was 231 acres.

County manager Tom Curran is on record as saying enough land to cater for six times Kerry’s population was earmarked for residential zoning in the boom.

The aim of the new plan, which will run from 2013 to 2019, is to have enough land zoned to cater for current population projections.

The Tralee and Killarney hub also covers their environs and villages such as Ballyheigue, Firies, Milltown, Ardfert, Farranfore, Abbeydorney, Beaufort and Kilcummin.

Meanwhile, there was a 24% drop in the number of planning applications for houses in Kerry in the first two months of this year.

Figures from the National Housing Construction Index show 39 applications were made in January and February compared to 51 in the same period in 2012.

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