*An artist’s impression of the development.
PLANS for a 26 unit social housing development will proceed straight to construction in a matter of weeks if no objections are lodged.
Under the plans for the Drumcliffe Road, Ennis, 26 residential units will be constructed by the local authority. The works can only be stalled by means of a judicial review, senior engineers in Clare County Council have confirmed.
Of the 26 properties, 6 will be three-bedroom two-storey terraced dwellings, 4 will be 4-bedroom three-storey semi-detached dwellings, 2 will be 3-bedroom single-storey detached dwellings, 12 will be 2-bedroom two-storey terraced dwellings and 2 will be 2-bedroom two-storey semi-detached dwellings.
Inclusion of 48 ancillary car-parking spaces, the demolition of an existing dwelling, sheds and outbuildings, the construction of vehicular and pedestrian access points to the site, alterations to ground levels to accommodate the development, varied boundary treatments and landscaping works, surface water management will include hydrocarbon interceptor and soakaway plus all ancillary site works form part of the plans.
Briefing elected members of the Ennis Municipal District on the plans, senior executive engineer Niamh Madden explained that it was an “exempted development which means it will go on public display for eight weeks and thereafter should all be well we will commence construction, it is a means of speeding up housing development and the process”.
Mayor of the Ennis MD, Cllr Pat Daly (FF) welcomed the addition of 26 houses as “good news”.
Further power has been removed from elected representatives, Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG). “We had briefings on this before, there is a housing crisis, I am very anxious to try assist and progress this but I have difficulty with this piece of legislation because it is removing the standard process of planning application for the local authority to apply to itself, planning was granted without due process, this exemption is not democratic and has removed the involvement of the elected member, I acknowledge there is a huge housing crisis but I am not in favour of this emergency power given to the Chief Executive”. He queried if it could be appealed to An Bord Pleanála.
Outlining that she understood the issues surrounding housing, Cllr Mary Howard (FG) asked if the “serious concerns” of nearby residents had been addressed. Cllr Tom O’Callaghan (FF) commented, “There is a housing crisis, I welcome the fact there is housing but yet it would be classed as a concern of mine”.
A part eight process had been initiated previously, Madden confirmed and this saw engagement completed with local residents. “The design has not changed since the original part eight which went on public display,” she confirmed. “We’ve no choice, when a development meets the criteria of Section 19A we have to go down this route”.
An Bord Pleanála will not be involved in any appeal, she said and told councillors the method to object would be via the High Court. “This isn’t An Bord Pleanála, the only method to make an objection is by a judicial review, this development has already gone in front of yourselves in its form as part 8 in previous life but has also been discussed at length with the planning department, we’re confident that this development isn’t just the housing dept winging it and just putting it in”.
Flooding and environmental issues that were raised as concerns must be noted, Cllr Flynn stressed. “We sought a determination on whether an environmental impact assessment was required, we didn’t believe it was, we’re generally quite confident when we get that far with project that we have the I’s dotted and T’s crossed. An Bord Pleanála got back to us to say no environmental impact assessment was required,” Madden responded.
Ballybeg based, Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy (FF) queried if the Section 139 which she described as “a transitionary power to address the housing crisis”, lapsed after a certain period of time.
Under this “temporary” provision according to Madden, “construction must commence before 31st December 2024”.