laois county councillors have voted against the recommendation of the county manager, and kept 13 acres of agricultural land in Graiguecullen zoned for development.
The land was zoned by Laois County Council during the boom, for commercial and industrial development, subject to a reduction in the speed limit from 100 kmph to 60, but the NRA did not permit this, and the land was left idle. It lies between the N80, the new Northern relief road and the Comer / Abbeyleix road. Two acres have been approved for a filling station, not yet built.
Cllr James Daly argued last week that it was unfair to dezone the land completely.
“A private landowner has invested to try and bring jobs to Laois, we don’t want to find ourselves deficient in zoned land in Graigue. It’s not fair to throw it out completely,” he said.
County manager Peter Carey said it would be bad planning to keep the land zoned.
“We have a responsibility here regarding proper planning development. The ring road sets out the boundary within which all development takes place. We have 80 acres zoned, a lot of space. The NRA are opposed to this, if we do change the zoning they will be back, and the minister too. This would not be proper planning,” he insisted.
Cllr Daly’s amendment to zone the land for community use, was carried by a close vote of 13 to 12.
Retired farmer Jimmy Dunne owns the land, and told the Leinster Express that he is relieved not to have it dezoned.
“Naturally I am glad, I spent a lot of money on planning, over €200,000. It is only five minutes from the town, it’s a natural development to the town,” he says.
The father of four hopes to eventually build a school, nursing home or community centre on the land, which has been in the Dunne family since the 1600’s and is now idle, as none of his children have taken up farming.
“At the moment you can’t get in or out of the Carlow schools, there is no parking there. There is no room for development there either. This is an ideal location. I might never see anything on it but the way town is going it will be built on eventually,” he said.