NUMEROUS towns and villages in Co Clare ‘are facing their demise’ over the lifetime of the 2023 – 2029 County Development Plan, a Whitegate representative has warned with the local authority tasked with providing 4,500 new houses during its lifetime.

Submissions for the Development Plan from the public will be taken until 28th March 2022 with senior officials in Clare County Council hopeful it will be adopted in March 2023 and effective from April 2023 to April 2029.

Depending on the volume and detail of the public in response to the draft, a further period of consultation may be required, acting senior planner with the local authority, Helen Quinn acknowledged but said the possibility of this was “highly likely”.

4,500 has been set by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage as the housing supply target for Clare County Council to deliver during the lifetime of the Development Plan. Lands identified for residential zoning must have the services required for housing during the six year cycle, this includes wastewater treatment which 52 of the towns and villages in the county currently do not have. There is an objective in the plan to look at how development could be facilitated “where settlements have no public wastewater treatment infrastructure”.

Clare’s housing provision under the plan is reflected in the zoning maps for the towns and villages “in terms of quantum of land zoned for residential purposes, we can’t zone land for 20,000 houses is effectively what it means, we’ve been asked to provide enough zoning for 4,500 houses,” Ms Quinn explained.

Of the 4,500 housing units, the distribution is split into six sections – key town (Ennis), metropolitan areas, service towns, small towns, large villages tier one and unserviced areas. Ennis as the ‘key town’ accounts for 34% of the target with 1,550 units planned to be delivered.

Shannon with 552 units (22%) is the main provider in the metropolitan area, other settlements included in this category are Sixmilebridge 186, Athlunkard 112, Clonlara 74, Bunratty 44, Parteen 26, Meelick 26 with 123 units earmarked for the Strategic Development Zone which is aspired to become Europe’s first University town. Ardnacrusha, Cratloe and O’Briensbridge are all included in this section but are classed as part of the unserviced rural area so no allocation has been detailed.

Kilrush/Cappa is the main provider of the service towns with 185 units to be constructed over the six years with 116 in Ennistymon/Lahinch and 59 in Scariff/Tuamgraney.

For the small towns, Newmarket-on-Fergus has the biggest allocation with 109, followed by Killaloe 77, Kilkee 64, Lisdoonvarna 44, Miltown Malbay 43 and Tulla 42.

Within the large villages, 44 houses are earmarked for Quin with the remainder divided among Corofin 33, Kilkishen 26, Crusheen 24, Doonbeg 15, Ballyvaughan 15, Kilfenora 13, Feakle 11, Inagh 11, Quilty 9, Whitegate 9, Liscannor 9, Mountshannon 8, Mullagh 6, Killimer 6, an unspecified amount has been listed for Clarecastle.

A total of 832 dwelling houses is the target for the unserviced areas of the county.

Looking to the future of rural towns and villages, Cllr Pat Burke (FG) was far from optimistic. “Until Irish Water wake up and see what’s going on, we’re seeing the demise of rural villages, there will be no building going on in these places, it needs to be highlighted to the public. Our hands are tied by the lack of investment by Irish Water. We’re facing the demise of a number of villages during the lifetime of this plan which is very unfortunate”.

Cllr Shane Talty (FF) noted the million euro investment by one Spanish Point business in the locality, “that scale of challenge can’t be made in every town and village”. Changing work patterns have increased the demand for people to live in rural coastal areas, he said. The postmaster felt there was an “imbalance” in the population projections towards Ennis, “we need to look at what is the impact for schools and sports clubs from imbalance, it presents very different make-up on population for the secretary of Naomh Eoin versus the secretary of Éire Óg”.

Driving the consensus of the population was a “completed disappointment”, Cllr Joe Killeen (FF) lamented. “They’re getting all the population, they will get 19% of the population targets up until 2029, I spent all my life fighting for numbers in schools, when you lose a teacher you lose your population and you lose your school. I can see this going one way for rural Clare, it is furthering compounding the insistence for people to move from rural to urban, this is going to be trouble”.

The senior planner said the projections came on foot of original policy documents at national level “which have prescribed how land planning has moved forward into the future, the documents talk about growth and the percentages of population we should be allocating”. She believed there was still capacity in rural areas.

 

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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