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23/09/2021

Controversial housing development plan in Portlaoise placed on hold

Controversial housing development plan in Portlaoise placed on hold

Aerial view of an original plan by Thomas Kelly & Sons for 200 houses at Rathevan, now scaled back to 99 units and a creche.

A plan to build 99 homes and a creche in an already large Portlaoise housing estate has been put on hold.

Developers Thomas Kelly & Sons are seeking planning permission from Laois County Council to construct more homes at Rathevan, a residentially built up area three kilometres from Portlaoise town centre.

The developer say it will "create an attractive, high quality neighbourhood" with sustainable housing and open spaces on a 11 acre site, and that it is a "rational extension" of Rossdarragh and Kilminchy.

It follows their previous withdrawn application to An Bord Pleanála in 2020 for 262 units on the same site. 

Their latest application resulted in 33 objections including a joint one from residents of Rossdarragh, Rathevan and Ashley Gardens housing developments. They say there was no site notice, that there is inadequate road infrastructure, that it will cause danger to pedestrians, that there is inadequate drainage and a increased flood risk.

"The proposed Ratheven, Kilminchy, Hermitage, Ashley Gardens and Colliers/Hawthorne estates will have over 2,000 units within a 750m zone which have no primary school, no large grocery stores, no churches, two secondary schools and two multi use games areas to support its residents."

They suggest instead a primary school for the site "once infrastructure is upgraded".

They also predict anti social behaviour, a loss of privacy, and they also note that part of the site is a burial ground, urging that the application, as with the previous two for the same site by the same developer, not proceed.

Kilminchy Management Company has also objected, with concerns about the already low water pressure and inadequate sewage system, and that added to other developments under construction it would bring to 2,200 the houses in the area. They do not want the estate to open into Kilminchy, fearing child safety risks. 

Now Laois County Council has requested Further Information on 17 separate points, including how the developer will attend to residents' concerns.

Planners note that the size of the apartments planned and the open space for each one are inadequate. They request an archeological survey as requested by the Department of Heritage on the entire 11 acre site.  

They ask for more traffic calming, a controlled pedestrian crossing, a stage 2 road safety audit and electric vehicle charging points. The planning authority also notes that there is no visitor parking and say that visitors could end up parking on approach roads and want this addressed. They ask for proposals on cycle ways and pathways into Kilminchy. They also ask the developer to show how the town's upcoming new public bus service will be accessed by residents. 

They ask how congestion can be relieved at the junction to Colliers Lane, possibly by upgrading this junction but with pedestrian safety in mind.  The developer must also submit better plans to check drainage of each garden. They must also clarify which sewage works the foul water will be sent to. 

The developer must supply the extra information by March 1 2022, or the application may be deemed withdrawn. 

Below: developer's artworks showing some housing types, and the position of the new development (outlined in red).

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