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23/09/2021

Green Party attacks Laois councillors over high-rise ban and rural housing

Councillors bucking against climate action and housing crisis measures

Portlaoise not Ballymun as Laois councillors ban big apartment blocks

Parkside apartment, retail and office block was built during the Celtic Tiger in Portlaoise away from the town centre

A Laois Green Party representative has hit out at county councillors over their 'bucking against' climate action and housing  policies in changes they've attempted to make to the new Laois County Development Plan.

John Holland, the party’s representative in Portarlington-Graiguecullen district, claims that councillors have made it difficult to develop housing in urban centres and have instead encouraged car-dependent housing in rural areas.

“The Green Party is pushing for a town-centres-first approach to how we plan our housing,” he says. “It strengthens a town when you have people living in the centre. You get a stronger and more connected community, better health and education services for all and you reduce the need for daily car journeys.”

He claimed councillors voted to put a limit on the height of apartment blocks for Portlaoise and to change the regulations to make it easier to build houses in rural area.

“We’re in the midst of a housing and climate crisis and the Government is striving to put proper and sustainable planning policies in place. Laois councillors have done us no favours by bucking against those policies and putting us out of step with other local authorities and the broader government planning strategy,” said Mr. Holland.

Councillors from all parties rejected changes to the plan made by Laois County Council planners on the back of recommendations made by the relatively recently established Office of the Planning Regulator.

Councillors backed proposal from Sinn Féin's Caroline Dwane Stanley to ban any new apartment blocks built higher than three stories. The also reverted to the existing county development plan in relation to rural housing.

The local representatives backed this move proposed by Fianna Fáil's Cllr Padraig Fleming. He insisted that the new plan would restrict people from rural areas building homes in where the are from.

The Minister responsible for Local Government can veto any amendments to the plan. The Office of the Planning Regulator can recommend the plan be revert back in line with its recommendations.

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