PLANS by Kildare Co Council to reduce its house building targets by over 80% in the next three years have come in for criticism from the building industry and some local councillors.
In an effort to align its policy within the National Planning Framework (NPF) the council has re-evaluated the number of houses projected for the county within the lifespan of the County Development Plan 2016-2023(CDP) from 32,400 to a little over 6,000.
This they hope to do with a 79-page variation to the CDP, which received 73 submissions from interested parties over the last two months, and is due to be voted on in May (Covid-19) permitting).
Amongst these were submissions from such firms as Lagan Homes, Cairn Homes and Glenveagh Homes who voiced a common opinion that the council may have “misread” population projections, even though they were within the guidelines of the Regional Spatial Economic Strategy (RSES) adopted at Government level 18 months ago.
“If not addressed this [plan] would result in a material and profound exacerbation in the existing housing crisis in the county,” said a spokesperson for Cairn Homes.
Lagan Homes have suggested the council defer the draft variation until more complete population projections are available from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), or re-write the entire CDP from next year.
Its implementation, they believe “significantly undermines investor confidence in the county…and will potentially result in a significant increase in house prices”.
“The devastating effect of the allocations on zoned residential land and housing delivery is exacerbated by the widely held acknowledgement that the allocations in the NPF are significantly underestimated and are currently under review by the ESRI. The draft variation is premature and not fit for purpose pending the outcome of this review,” said Lagan’s planning consultants..
However, according to the new draft of the CDP “sufficient land is zoned to cater for the housing demands of the county up to 2023 and beyond”.
“The zoning of land in any forthcoming land use plan shall comply with the
requirements that land should not be zoned for development unless there is existing service capacity available,” the draft variation stated.
Between 2009 and 2013 rural one-off dwellings accounted for 40% of all builds in Kildare.
This high figure reflected the relatively low level of construction within the urban areas of Kildare due to the economic downturn and capacity issues within the Osberstown waste water treatment catchment.
An average of 264 rural dwellings were built per annum in Kildare between 2009-2015 which consolidated a pattern of dispersed rural development.
“It is envisaged that the provision of serviced sites to create ‘build your own home’ opportunities within the existing footprint of rural settlements will provide an alternative to one-off housing in the countryside.
“The development capacity of individual proposals shall be controlled to 10-15 per cent of the existing housing stock over the lifetime of the CDP.
“Larger schemes will only be considered where they relate to important strategic sites (e.g. infill within the core of a village/settlement, or the redevelopment of backlands) and will be contingent on the agreement of a masterplan”.
In a joint submission co-authored by Cllr Fintan Brett and Senator Anthony Lawlor they say that the “dwellings total for the entire county is less than the number of families on the housing list”.
“The figure for Naas of 898 houses by 2023 does not reflect the needs of the town, and will in fact result in rising prices for already very expensive houses,” they wrote.
This sentiment was echoed by Clr Kevin Duffy.
“Is cutting it so dramatically the right thing when we’ve got 12,000 people on the housing list?” he asked.