By Conor Ganly firstname.lastname@example.org @laoisnews
A little more than 30 acres of publicly-owned land in Laois towns and villages is designated for housing under a new scheme announced by the Government to tackle the housing crisis.
The total is a small fraction of the 336 hectares (830 acres) of land in Laois that is zoned for housing according to Laois County Council estimates. If developed this land could accommodate more than 5,000 homes.
Mr Simon Coveney TD Minister for Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, last week launched Rebuilding Ireland Housing Land Map. It is described as a vital initial step in the new State Housing Land Management Strategy.
The list for Laois identifies 22 small sites which in total cover just 30.12 acres.
The sites are either sites owned by councils in Laois or publicly owned so called 'Land Aggregation Scheme Sites'.
Maps show the Laois sites located in the following towns and villages:
l Portlaoise 2 sites 2.7 acres
l Portarlington 2 sites 1.4 acres
l Mountmellick 1 site .36 acre
l Stradbally 3 sites 3 acres
l Rathdowney 3 sites 6.51
l Mountrath 3 sites 4.97 acres
l Timahoe 1 site 1.49acres
l Ballyroan 2.39acres
l Durrow 2 sites 2.99 acres
lBallinakill 2 site 2.18 acres
l Errill 1 site 1.82 acres
l Castletown 1.5 acres
Some of the sites will require rezoning by Laois county council.
Estimates of possible housing numbers are only put on four of the sites. Just one site has a definitive plan for houses to be built.
Costs and designs are being prepared for 16 houses on a 1.41 acre site in Portlaoise off the Abbeyleix Road by Respond. This site has the potential for 31 houses.
A 1.3 acre site off the Cork Road in Durrow has the potential for 14 houses.
Two sites in Mountrath have the potenial for a total of 60 houses.
The viability of some of the sites is open to question.
For instances in relation two linked sites on the Golf Links Road Rathdowney, it is stated that Rathdowney is a “small town” with a “low demand” for housing. It said the sites were removed from town centre designation and are not zoned.
A survey carried out by Laois County Council in 2014 showed that there was a total of 336 hectares of land in Laois zoned by the council to build 5, 162 houses.