Take power to rezone land from councillors

THE urban sprawl situation in Kenmare described by John Joe O’Brien (Irish Examiner letters, December 16) is being replicated throughout the country.

Is it any wonder the European Environmental Agency made this comment recently on development in Ireland: “We couldn’t believe what we saw on the maps because they showed that sprawl was so extensive in a country where the geography is not designed for such a thing”.

This is nowhere more apparent than in Dingle where the local development plan sets out (or so it says) to “create a compact and accessible town in accordance with the principles of sustainable development”.

It also aims, we’re told, to “seek to maintain and enhance Dingle’s unique character, ambience and cultural attributes”.

Then, to create this nice, compact community the plan zones over 170 acres of land for housing. This, according to Kerry County Council planners, means Dingle will be “over-zoned for housing”.

And how do the councillors respond to this zoning splurge? By voting to rezone even more land.

The town boundaries will be extended to include a large area outside Dingle, an area where landowners’ previous planning applications were refused or withdrawn. Both Fáilte Ireland and the spatial planning section of the Department of the Environment objected to this sprawl.

The impact of sprawl on our society is summed up by the Institute of Public Health in Ireland when it points to rising levels of obesity, air pollution, road traffic injuries, stress and isolation resulting from the way we develop housing.

Perhaps the most grotesque aspect of this is that it now seems if rezoned land is refused permission on sound planning principles, the council could be liable to compensation claims by the applicants. The council’s money is our money and councillors’ reckless behaviour in appeasing the interests of landowners should end immediately. Taking the power to rezone land away from them would be a step in the right direction.

And where professional planning advice is ignored, it is the irresponsible councillors who should foot the bill.

Seán Brosnan

Dingle Sustainable Development Group

Strand Street


Co Kerry

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