Thursday, 15 February 2007

Kildare sewage plant stalls slowing house building

This from Pal Melia in the Irish Indo' - MORE than 160 construction workers have lost their jobs because a developer cannot get planning permission to build new homes in one of the fastest-growing towns in the county.
And thousands of houses in Co Kildare might not be built because the sewerage system serving the county is overburdened and will not be upgraded until 2011.
Developers revealed yesterday that they had been told planning permission was unlikely to be granted for homes in Newbridge, Naas and Clane because the Osberstown sewage treatment plant cannot handle any more waste.
And one company let go 161 staff in the past two months because it cannot develop a site in Newbridge.
Denis McIntyre, of Roseberry Construction, said yesterday: "It's very strange for a blocklayer to be asking for work. Some of the guys we've had to let go are with us for 20 years."
He added that the company's 43-acre site in the town would lie idle until the new sewage treatment plant came on stream, which was unlikely to happen until at least 2011.
"The amount of levies being paid (to the council) is enormous, but the infrastructure isn't being put in place. This is totally out of our hands, it's up to
the council," Mr McIntyre added.The shortfall in new homes coming on stream is sure to push house prices up for hard-pressed first-time buyers. Other Kildare towns earmarked for expansion over the coming years include Sallins, Clane and Kilcullen and housing may also be curtailed here. Developers have warned that further job losses are likely unless a sewerage treatment plant servicing the county is upgraded.
In one case, a developer was granted planning permission to build 24 homes despite having applied to complete over 70. A condition of planning was that the remainder could not be built until the treatment plant was upgraded.
The Osberstown plant is already operating at capacity, and upgrading plans were put to the Department of the Environment in 2002. However, no work is expected to begin until at least 2008, although funding for the €17.4m scheme has been approved.
Kildare County Council is understood to be finalising contract documents with a view to putting the project out to tender. The council could not be reached for comment yesterday.
"I have 43 acres in Newbridge and it's not serviced," Mr McIntyre said. "I sought planning permission in January last year for 196 houses and a creche, and I'm now at the third request for additional information. My engineers are tearing their hair out, we've got the same questions back for clarification again."
The Kildare County Development Plan expects that 2,500 new homes will be built in the county every year up to 2011.
In Naas, Newbridge and Kilcullen - all of which rely on the Osberstown plant - 7,300 houses are supposed to be built. On Clane, Sallins and Kill over 1,000 are due to come on stream.
A spokesman for the Construction Industry Federation said last night that the situation had reached "crisis point", warning that house prices would "rocket" in the county.
"Kildare County Council has indicated that it has sufficient zoned and serviced lands to meet all projections of need," spokesman Kevin Flavin said.
"It is clear that this isn't the case. The council indicates that there are 160 hectares of zoned and serviced lands in Newbridge. We know this land is not serviced and cannot be developed.
He added that there was an absence of "joined-up, strategic thinking" on the issue and that houses could not be built because there was no basic infrastructure.

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