*The Shannon Free Zone. 

“A CONSIDERABLE NUMBER” of granted planning applications in the county have yet to be acted on, the Director of Economic Development with Clare County Council has outlined.

In the past three weeks, a presentation was prepared for IDA clients in the Mid-West on the amount of residential land and the availability of housing within Clare by the Council’s Director of Economic Development, Liam Conneally. This was compiled on the request of the IDA’s Regional Manager.

Shortage of housing options to rent or to buy within the town of Shannon has been flagged as a concern by leading companies operating in the area.

When the Taoiseach, Micheál Martin (FF) officially opened the Meira GTx’s new GMP manufacturing facility in Shannon, it emerged that none of the 100 workers from outside Clare were able to locate housing in the town they were now working in.

He explained, “they wanted to see the pipeline of housing, the number of planning applications received and granted for the short-term and medium-term in Clare on housing. The feedback I got was that we have a considerable number of permissions out there yet to be acted on, over 1000 units of permissions have been granted already in 2022 but there are considerable pipeline of development in planning system yet to be acted on, the amount of zoned land for enterprise and commercial”.

Following the presentation, there was a Q&A session between Conneally and CEOs from IDA companies. He maintained that the “pipeline is strong” but noted the concern expressed from the business representatives on the current climate in the tech sector. “We’re seeing more and more of these tech companies which have significant sub supply activity in our jurisdiction and how it will impact us and the talent pipeline from universities and other institutions to be attracted to this county and region. It was a full and frank exchange, it was useful”.

Briefing elected members of the Shannon Municipal District, Mr Conneally stressed the urgency to complete the flood embankment work within Shannon “so we can take the flood risk off a significant portion of lands in our control, that is crucial and the sooner it gets moving the better. I don’t believe we can do that piece of work fast enough, it is crucial for our second largest urban centre”.

Housing supply is “a huge issue” in Shannon, Cllr Gerry Flynn (IND) stressed. “It can only be addressed with multiple methods. The social housing aspect needs to be addressed but we need serviced sites and affordable housing, we need to be more innovative on the methods we use to fill the void”.

Cllr Flynn who is the Chair of the Social Development SPC which has responsibility for housing added, “A lot of people have left Shannon to get housing elsewhere because there is none available, a lot of the private schemes in Shannon end up as social housing. Shannon has its fair share of social housing but there has been no private scheme built for the last twelve to fifteen years”.

Shannon has reason to be positive from an economic sense, Cllr Pat McMahon (FF) affirmed. “It has been said that we’ve been left on the hind tit in terms of bringing economic players into our area but what has been said here gives a more positive outlook. In last few years we’ve seen huge influx into Shannon area, we nearly take for granted the Shannon Industrial Estate which has 10k workers approximately, it is only when you meet people from Donegal or so and they tell you how privileged we are to have it”..

Job cuts in the tech industry did not catch the Newmarket-on-Fergus native on the hop. “It surprises me how people are shocked with the slowdown of tech, people who follow history will not be surprised by it, only how quickly it happened”.

Also at the meeting, the Director informed councillors that the appointment of a community development officer for the Shannon MD was “in train”. The pace of the appointment was criticised by Cllr PJ Ryan (IND), “it has been a while (in train)”.

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