*Cllr Cillian Murphy. Photograph: Eamon Ward

CONCERN has been voiced on the potential implications to Clare’s population projections of the Strategic Development Zone (SDZ), designation for which has been sought from the Government by Clare County Council and the University of Limerick.

Under the RSES, population projections estimate between 129,500 – 131,500 will live in Clare by 2026 and 134,000 – 137,000 by 2031.

Acting senior planner with the Council, Helen Quinn detailed that the population aspiration for the SDZ under the upcoming County Development Plan is for 3,500 people with up to 123 housing units to be delivered from 2023 to 2029. She said the current allocation was “realistic” but was likely to be a discussion point in 2030 and 2040.

Across a 110 hectare site, Ms Quinn told a briefing of the Rural Development SPC that the SDZ has “capacity to become a game changer both regionally and nationally, it has the capacity to generate employment both long-term and in the construction phase”.

Based on this data, 30 percent of the county’s population projections is earmarked for the SDZ. This raised the eyebrows of Cllr Cillian Murphy (FF) who queried, “is the rest of the county sacrificed on the altar for the plans of a place that may never happen”.

Officials are to “align to the housing supply targets not the population,” Quinn responded as she explained they were asked to divvy out the goal of 4,500 houses across Clare.

Chair of the SPC, Cllr Pat Hayes (FF) was hopeful the SDZ would come to fruition and maintained it would be “hugely beneficial” to the county. He questioned where the 123 housing units would be allocated if the plans fell through with the acting senior planner of the view that the matter would not be dissected to that level until the end of the Development Plan’s lifecycle.

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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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