THE Department of the Environment has warned Westmeath County Council not to zone any more land in Moate, saying that too much zoning has taken place in the town of late.
In addition, an objective stating that only 50% of the existing land zoned residential should be released before 2014, with the remainder to be developed after that year.
Moate is one of four Westmeath towns - along with Kilbeggan, Delvin and Castlepollard - which were singled out by the Department of the Environment for having too much re-zoning take place in recent years.
In county manager Danny McLoughlin's report on public submissions relating to the Moate Town Plan, he stated that sufficient lands are currently available to provide for any population increase in Moate "until 2014 and beyond."
The county manager stated that no more zoning would take place in Moate or the other three towns mentioned by the Department for the foreseeable future, except in cases where a particular retail, commercial Or educational shortfall was identified.
The Department has expressed its wish to see the existing zoned land developed on a carefully managed basis before any further development takes place.
In his report on Moate, Mr McLoughlin said that the town's population rose by 24.2% between 2002 and 2006. The town's population stood at 1,888 in 2006 and, the report stated, "there are sufficient lands zoned in the draft town plan to provide a further population increase of 7,056 people, which is adequate to provide for the planned growth of the town to 2014 and beyond."
The report added: "In response to the Department's submission, it is accepted that such a growth needs to be managed carefully to ensure Moate can achieve a critical mass to support its growing urban and extensive rural hinterland but also that such a growth would not compete with the accelerated growth of the nearby linked gateway towns of Athlone and Tullamore."
Additional lands "remote from the town" should not be zoned in order to "ensure a proper consolidated and concentric sustainable growth of the town," the report stated.
In response to requests for land to be re-zoned for enterprise and employment, the county manager's report stated that 13.5ha is presently available in Moate for this purpose, however it did consent to land to the north and north west of the town's business park being re-zoned for the same purpose.
In total, over 400 submissions relating to the draft County Development Plan for 2008-14 were received by the Council.
Posted by bps planning consultants - www.buckplanning.ie