Thursday, 12 April 2007

Rezoning prompts fears for character of idyllic tourist village

A GOLD rush type sale of house sites in Adare has forced Limerick County Council to order an environmental study amid fears that overdevelopment could damage one of the country’s idyllic tourism villages.

A half-acre site was sold in the last year for €1.3 million. Local landowners, including the village GAA club, are sitting on tens of millions in potential assets following a move by Limerick County Council to rezone land near the village for housing.

However, planners in Limerick County Council have ordered a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), fearing overdevelopment could damage the character of the village and put undue pressure on water, sewerage and other services. The study will take up to nine months.

Local auctioneer John Giltinane said: “A one-acre site zoned for housing within ten minutes’ walk of the village could make up to €1m. Housing land in Adare is worth twice that in other villages in the general area.”

The local GAA club has applied to Limerick County Council to have its five-acre ground rezoned from recreation to development.

Many club members want to sell up and move to a bigger site further from the village due to the inadequate facilities at the club grounds at Black Abbey road.

Tom Healy, who heads the club’s assets subcommittee, said they have a space crisis and need more room for their hurling, football and camogie teams.

Any decision on selling would rest with the 250 members of the club.

Mr Healy said: “To sell and move would not be sacrilege, but it would allow us plan for the future. We will have to buy land anyway to provide more training facilities. I think it would be preferable to have all our facilities on one new site, rather than holding on to the present playing pitch and buying a second elsewhere to help with training.”

Tom Enright, director of housing with Limerick County Council, said they are obliged to initiate an SEA, given the scale of the rezoning sought by the council’s elected member.

Mr Enright said: “The village at present has a population of around 1,300. We need to retain the character of the village and to achieve that we feel the population should not increase above 2,500 to 3,000. Any expansion should retain the character of the village as it is a very traditionally designed village and one of the most attractive in the country and a major tourism attraction.”

The council owns 20 acres of undeveloped housing land in the village and feels rezoning should not go beyond 75 acres.

The Irish Examiner

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