U-turn likely on urban sprawl plan

Less than a month after thumbing their noses at a Government Minister’s advice and warnings, Laois County Councillors look set to be forced to row back on a plan to zone high risk flooding land in Mountmellick for houses.

Less than a month after thumbing their noses at a Government Minister’s advice and warnings, Laois County Councillors look set to be forced to row back on a plan to zone high risk flooding land in Mountmellick for houses.

Late last month Laois County Councillors refused to back down on zoning 10.5 heactares of land at Debbicot for residential use against the advice of Department of the Envirornment. Its officials said such a move would be “illogical and haphazard”. The County Manager Mr Peter Carey also warned zoning the land as part of the new Mountmellick Area Plan.

“This ticks all the boxes for wrong planning,” he said. Councilllors were were warned that the Department would use its powers to overturned.

While the motion to retain the zoning was tabled last month by the Labour councillor, Pat Bowe it is a Labour Minister that looks set to force Laois County Council into a u-turn.

In a letter sent to Mr Carey last Friday the Minister of State for Housing and Planning Jan O’Sullivan says she is considering using her power to changing the plan and remove the zoning.

“I have formed the provisional opinon that the Planning Authority has ignored or not taken account of a submission made on my behalf in September 2012.The council’s attention was brought, in particular to mapped amendment number 1, namely lands of c 10.5 hectares at Debbicot, which are: physically isolated from the town and would represent an illogical and haphazard extension of Mountmellick and, if carried out would tend to lead to urban sprawl,” said the letter.

Despite the concerns raised she said the councillors “purported the lands for residential use” which she said meant the council has “ignored or has not taken sufficient account of the written submission made on my behalf”.

The Department has published details of the steps taken in this week’s Leinster Express (pg 43). A consultation process must now take place during which coucillors will be allowed to give their response.