Portlaoise land price questioned by councillors

The seemingly cheap price of a piece of land being sold by Laois County Council to a member of the public, prompted councillors to refuse to approve the sale until a site visit last week.

The seemingly cheap price of a piece of land being sold by Laois County Council to a member of the public, prompted councillors to refuse to approve the sale until a site visit last week.

The council are proposing to sell a 1.4 acre residential site at Pound Field, Mountrath Road, Portlaoise for €60,000, to Ollie and Avril Fennell.

Cllr Marty Phelan proposed that the decision be adjourned until the next meeting on December 10. He was seconded by Cllr John Bonham.

Cllr Jerry Lodge wanted to let the sale go ahead.

“Due process has been followed, on what issues or grounds do you wish an adjournment?”, he asked.

Cllr Phelan suggested the price was too low.

“We are not getting enough money for this land because it is in the middle of the town. There is no reason why we can’t withdraw and sell two years later. I know the value of land in towns compared to rural areas,” Cllr Phelan said.

Cllr Willie Aird said the land had a sewer going through it, suggesting a site visit to mollify his colleagues’ concerns.

“What’s ten days, to allow the councillors to be briefed?” he said.

Director of Services Kieran Kehoe said they had advertised on the open market and the offer was the best they got.

“There is a mains sewer and fill material on the site, and part of it is in a flood plain. We got a valuer’s opinion and the value secured is higher than that. When you go to the market you see what people will pay,” he said, adding that the land was only partly zoned for residential development.

Cllr Lodge requested that the item be first on the agenda for their December 10 meeting.

“I have no doubt that people will accept that we got the best value,” he said.