By Finian Coghlan
PLANS for 540 new homes in two developments on either side of the Ballymany Road out of Newbridge could literally turn into a race between them for completion after a senior official confirmed “if all this was permitted, we would be exceeding our core strategy”.
This refers to the idea in the County Development Plan (CDP) towns would only build housing that would be dictated by Census patterns for the future.
“These developments are basically first come, first served…and we will be informing An Bord Pleanala (ABP) on this,” said Elaine Donohue, Executive Planner at Kildare County Council, basically acknowledging that ABP couldn’t give the green light to both without contravening the CDP.
Ms Donohue was replying to a question on this issue from Cllr Kevin Duffy, a projects manager from the profession, at the September meeting of the Kildare-Newbridge Municipal District held online earlier this week (15 September).
She was enlightening the members on the latest of two major planning applications on either side of the main western approach road into Newbridge.
Last week she briefed members on the 345-unit Strategic Housing Development (SHD) that Briargate Developments has planned for the site opposite the Maxol Garage.
This week it was for the 6.76Ha(17ac) site between the filling station, the M7, and Horse Racing Ireland’s headquarters, where Glan Developments applied to ABP on 22 July to build 204 homes, and expects an answer by 25 November.
Ms Donohue revealed that a similar application on the site was refused three years ago due to “an unimaginative layout”, and that already ABP had requested additional information from the developer on sewerage upgrades, impact on the M7, the layout of the crèche, noise, charging points, and about 20 further concerns already.
However, the members were singularly unimpressed.
“Low [amenity] space-high density on the edge of town is bananas!” declared Cllr Suzanne Doyle.
“It would’ve been a great site for a new school, is all I’ll comment,” said Cllr Peggy O’Dwyer.
“Where are all these kids going to go to school?” wondered Cllr Fiona McLoughlin Healy.
“If it’s important to ask about EV charging points and car parking spaces, what about access to other services like GPs? You can’t register with one in town at the moment as they’re so busy, and I’m married to one!” she said.
“I’m not against development, but it has to be sustainable,” she said.
“Newbridge is choked with traffic, and the Ballymany Road has been a blackspot for years, and we want to add all this more traffic to it?”
“These Big Kahuna developments have to be asked these questions,” said Cllr Noel Heavey, “but without a second bridge or new schools, we are putting the cart before the horse again”.
“I’m concerned a 54-place crèche for 204 houses may not be enough,” said Cllr Noel Connolly, “and I’m also concerned with the density [38 units/Ha] because Newbridge is bursting at its seams”.
“None of these people will have any link to public transport,” said Cllr Chris Pender.
“If one of these Ballymany developments gets the nod, it will heavily influence the outcome on the other,” said Cathaoirleach Cllr Rob Power.
One of the few practising solicitors on the Council, Cllr Mark Stafford suggested that “building the highest density housing on the edge of town, I would say, contravenes both the CDP and Newbridge’s Local Area Plan”.
He also noted that the County Manager’s opinion on the Briargate project over the road was due befor ABP this week, and asked that it be circulated among members, and Ms Donohue agreed.