*An aerial view of Newmarket-on-Fergus. 

CONSTRUCTION OF NEW HOUSES in Newmarket-on-Fergus has been delayed by the pace of Irish Water upgrades in the village.

Following a proposal by Cllr Pat McMahon (FF), Clare County Council requested Irish Water “to expedite the upgrade works to the waste water treatment plant in Newmarket-on-Fergus as the delay is holding up the building of new houses in the area, both in the public and private sector”.

A formal reply was awaited from Irish Water after the environment section of the Council forwarded Cllr McMahon’s notice of motion.

During discussions between the local authority and Irish Water, the State-owned water utility company “outlined their intention to lodge the required planning application for the upgrade works, complete with new rising main outfall for the Newmarket-on-Fergus waste water treatment plant in the coming weeks,” senior engineer Cyril Feeney stated.

He added, “subject to planning approval they will then proceed to engage with their supply chain to deliver the project through a competitive tendering process”.

Work began in the third quarter of 2020 on the delivery of eighteen social housing units in Newmarket-on-Fergus which has been the largest housing development within the village in over a decade.

In February 2019, Woodhaven Developments lodged plans to construct a 51 housing development in Ballynacragga in Newmarket. Residents objected and flagged that the development in the woodland area was almost four times what had been identified in its potential in the County Development Plan while also sharing concerns on sewerage and the pressure the existing water infrastructure.

Larry Brennan of Woodhaven Developments has previously stated the village was “not ready for construction” and that it had “major problems”.

Speaking at a recent sitting of the Shannon Municipal District, Cllr McMahon referenced the fact that fifty towns and villages in the county do not have adequate wastewater treatment plants, putting them at risk of being dezoned in the upcoming County Development Plan. “As a matter of urgency we need to start building houses in Newmarket-on-Fergus,” he stressed.

McMahon believed the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien (FF) was not seeing the low-hanging fruit. “One would think the Minister would zero in on where houses could be built, on this basis towns with wastewater treatment plants. There was forty houses refused lately in Newmarket-on-Fergus, the main reason was or wastewater treatment and sewerage, it astounds me with the Minister knowing all his facts and he hasn’t zoned in on where houses can be built. It seems to never be a solution or one in sight, when I was growing up we were in the position of having a land bank when the country wasn’t a quarter as rich, how it has changed has baffled me”.

Newmarket-on-Fergus native McMahon added, “In Newmarket-on-Fergus we haven’t had new houses built for some time, there is a demand for local authority and affordable housing. It amazes me that the Minister hasn’t put in a red zone for where houses can be put in place. Now we’re finding out it is affecting industry, it stops the creation of jobs into the future. Our children, our neighbours and their children it has a stigma attached to successive housing ministers, they have lovely launches but it seems to be having no real impact”.

Chair of the Social Development SPC which has responsibility for housing, Cllr Gerry Flynn (IND) observed, “the infrastructure isn’t there to match the need for housing. By great luck Clare County Council managed to get a connection to 18 units, there is a huge need not just in Newmarket-on-Fergus but the whole area”.

Parallels were drawn by Cllr Flynn between Irish Water and the HSE. “Irish Water are similar to the HSE, they were given autonomy and power by the Government but it doesn’t mean healthcare is any better no less than infrastructure for housing”. The Shannon representative felt the motion should be circulated to the county’s Oireachtas members, “it is time they came out of the bunker”.

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