Portlaoise housing u-turn

a BANK which was at the centre of fueling the property boom does not want to proceed with the building of nearly 70 houses in Portlaoise.

a BANK which was at the centre of fueling the property boom does not want to proceed with the building of nearly 70 houses in Portlaoise.

Ulster Bank were successful in their request to change the zoning of 1.34 hectares of land beside the Old Dunnes Stores shopping centre. The land on Green Mill Lane had approval up to 2013 for 68 housing units. It is now zoned ‘neighbourhood centre’.

The news emerged last Monday, July 30, when the future six years of Laois’ major towns was being mapped out by County Councillors. However some of their decisions to back more new housing estates will never see the light of day, according to County Manager Peter Carey.

A raft of residential rezoning decisions were taken affecting Portlaoise, Portarlington and Mountmellick, as part of their Local Area Plans, which will govern planning developments until 2018.

Councillors went against the County Manager’s recommendations time and again during the long day in council chambers, voting to rezone for two housing developments on the outskirts of Mountmellick, and another major residential development in Rathevan, Portlaoise.

The Borris Road was in several submissions.

A request for 3.8 hectares of land beside the schools to be rezoned from ‘community, educational, institutional’ to ‘residential’, was unanimously rejected by councillors, despite a recommendation by Peter Carey.

Cllr Willie Aird voiced his objections.

“Look at the site of the schools. They have a railway line on one side, the Hermitage estate on the other, in thirty years time, we could have an extra two school years, where do they extend to? There is no room,” he said.

However, 8.5 hectares beside the Rathevan estate were approved for housing, again going against the county manager’s advice.

The council said rezoning the land as residential would exceed the 67 hectares allowed for Portlaoise, and it was too far from the town.

The site, owned by Thomas Kelly, was marked ‘strategic reserve’ meaning it can not be developed until after 2018.

Cllr Jerry Lodge led the push for rezoning it.

“This land is only 250 metres from the two new schools. This gentleman developed Rathevan, totally completing it. It is his livelihood, he is not a developer,” he said.

Another 8 hectares of land at Rathevan was turned down for residential zoning, both by the county manager and the councillors.

In Mountmellick, land with plans for 30 eco-friendly units in Debbicot got councillors’ approval for rezoning, but Manager Mr Carey warned it would not get any further.

The LAPs are currently being drawn up, with final reports expected by early November.