Social Democrats Kildare Councillor Aidan Farrelly has raised concerns over the role of An Bord Pleanála in an application for a private housing development in Clane which grew from 322 units to 366 after formal input from the Board.
The Strategic Housing Development application, which is currently before the national planning authority pending decision, is for the construction of 366 houses and apartments on the outskirts of Clane, Co Kildare.
The original application by developers Ardstone sought permission for 322 housing units. As part of the planning process, An Bord Pleanála issued an Inspectors Report ahead of the final application being submitted to the Board.
In this report, the Inspector recommended that ‘‘…particular regard should be had to need to develop at a sufficiently high density to provide for an acceptable efficiency in serviceable land usage given the proximity of the site to Clane town centre, with its established social and community services”.
Following this, the development saw a 14% increase in the density of units per hectare being applied for by the developer, going from 322 units to 366 in total.
The An Bord Pleanála website outlines its responsibility to play an ‘…independent role in major infrastructure projects whilst respecting the principles of sustainable development.’
Commenting on the matter, Cllr Farrelly said the following:
“Clane is a small town with approximately 8,000 residents, and we know that local schools are at capacity, GPs are not accepting new patients and the public transport infrastructure is a long way from high frequency.
“Yet it’s this last caveat which, according to the statutory planning guidelines on Sustainable Residential Development in Urban Areas, under section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended) allows developers apply for 35-50 dwellings per hectare.
“It’s estimated that a total of 9.7 hectares are available for development on this site in Clane – which at 366 units would provide 38 dwellings per hectare. If left at the original proposal of 322 units, would leave the density at 33 dwellings per hectare.
“In a response to a Parliamentary Question from Social Democrats T.D. for Kildare North Catherine Murphy last week, the current Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy confirmed that there’s scope for providing fewer than 35 dwellings per hectare in smaller towns and villages to support sustainable development.
“So why do we find ourselves in a situation where a private developer originally sought permission for a development with a density of 33 dwellings per hectare, and yet after formal input from An Bord Pleanála it upped the density to 38 dwellings per hectare?” asked Farrelly.
“As local councillors, our concerns with relation to this specific development have been collated for inclusion in the Kildare County Council Chief Executive’s Report to An Bord Pleanála as part of the planning process.
“Any criticism for this density type of development shouldn’t be misinterpreted as an objection to new housing in the area – it’s quite the opposite in fact. We are in the midst of a major housing crisis – and we need more houses. We need to use public lands to build affordable housing.
“We need to ensure our communities can respond to new housing developments with adequate social infrastructure. And with the continued political reliance on the private housing model by Fine Gael, now more than ever we need An Bord Pleanála to be that independent authority that supports sustainable development,” concluded Farrelly.
11th July 2019