Mountmellick plan has increased flood zones with housing land reduced

Lynda Kiernan

Reporter:

Lynda Kiernan

Email:

lynda.kiernan@leinsterexpress.ie

Mountmellick plan has increased flood zones with housing  land reduced

The flooded N80 road in Irishtown Mountmellick. Photo: Denis Byrne

The devastating floods that hit over 100 homes and businesses in Mountmellick in November 2017, has meant more floodplains marked out on the draft 2018-2024 Local Area Plan.

The draft plan, which the public are being asked give their views on, has also cut back the amount of residential zoned land around Mountmellick.

And, unlike in Portlaoise and Portarlington, where a total of 13 'opportunity sites' have been identified for development. Just one small site is earmarked in Mountmellick.

The plan went out for public consultation on March 21 but was outlined to county counillors this week.

Executive Planner David O Hara said there will still be enough land to allow for population growth, to the Mountmellick Borris-in-Ossory Municipal District meeting of March 22.

"We have reduced two residential zones in Mountmellick, they are pared back, but there is still adequate land," he said.

Mountmellick is predicted to need 257 new homes to cope with an expected population growth of 743 people, in the next six years.

The draft plan states that this requires 27 hectares of residential land, at a density of 14 homes per hectare.

The plan has 15.45ha. of undeveloped residentially zoned land, located within and adjacent to established residential areas within the town, which the plan states can provide 216 units. 

The remaining new homes should be developed from "infill sites within the built-up area" and "backlands" of the town, to "consolidate the built up area of the town".

Two other pieces of land have been rezoned, Mr O Hara pointed out.

The land at the back of the MDA is being changed from Town Centre to Open Space Amenity, this land (including Baker's field) is planned to be a walled flood plain to allow the Owenass to flood safely. 

There is €3.1million approved for flood defences for Mountmellick following the November flood.

The second piece of land rezoned is at the waste water treatment plant, changed from Community & Education use to Transport and Institution.

"This doesn't do anything to allow other developments, it just reflects what's there," Mr O Hara said.

Construction of a long awaited N80 relief road for Mountmellick is "considered a strategic piece of infrastructure which will help alleviate traffic congestion in the town centre. Further investigation is required in order to identify a preferred route."

Mountmellick has a younger than average population. 50 percent are aged under 35 years. Just 21% are aged 55 or older, compared to 24% elsewhere in the State. 

The town's population is predicted to grow from 4,777 recorded in 2016, up to 5,478 by 2024.

While County Laois grew by 26.3% between 2006 and 2016, to 84,697 people, Mountmellick grew slower, by 17.4% to 4,777 people by 2016.

There is encouragement for business development, with lands already zoned at Derryguile, Bay Road and Acragar. 

"We have one opportunity site, the old Maltings," Mr O Hara said.

He was referring to the structure on the Portlaoise road now owned by Laois County Council with no plan yet for its future use.

He is encouraging the public to view the plan, at a 'drop in day' on Thursday April 5 in the council offices. There will be a further consultation evening in the Library/civic offices in Mountmellick, on Tuesday evening April 17 from 6 to 8pm. Submissions must be made in writing within six weeks.

It can also be viewed in County hall or online. View the plan on the council's website here. 

Below: Flood zone map. The wine coloured areas have a 'one in 100 chance of flooding each year', the pink areas a 'one in 1,000 chance of flooding each year'.