PLANNERS are reportedly strenuously opposed to moves to rezone large tracts of farmland for housing near the picture-postcard village of Adare, Co Limerick.
Local politicians want to rezone several hundred acres of agriculture land.
But the council insists only 80 acres at most are needed for proper and ordered housing development in the tourism village over the next 20 years.
At a private briefing, senior officials told councillors that demands for major rezoning of land in Adare could not be given due to the heritage nature of the village and the pressure it would put on local services. Click Here!
Solicitors who attended the meeting also told elected members they could be in a legal minefield if they go against the professional advice of planners.
A number of court judgments were brought to the attention of the councillors where rezoning decisions had been overturned by the courts and the Minister for the Environment.
Rezoning is now being considered as part of the revision of the Adare Development Plan, due to be completed this year.
Council planners say Adare’s present population of 1,100 should only be allowed grow to 1,600 in the period of the six-year plan and over the next 20 years, the population should not exceed 2,600.
Planners insisted 80 acres would provide enough space for the housing needs up to 2028 and the council already owns 20 acres.
Rezoning is the preserve of elected representatives, but if they go against the advise of planners, they must show good cause.
Local councillors, at a meeting on January 15, 2007, agreed to push for the rezoning of large areas of farmland on the outskirts of the village for residential use.
They got backing from developers who see Adare as the jewel in the mid-west crown for house sites.
Councillor John Clifford said: “The legal advisers were brought to yesterday’s meeting at our request to be clear in our mind on the way forward.”
A half-acre site in Adare zoned for housing fetched €1.3 million in 2006.
Limerick County Council members have an arrangement that when councillors in one electoral area want to rezone land, the councillors in the other electoral areas support them. The full council needs a 75% vote to carry a rezoning.
However, it has emerged that council management have taken legal advice, such is their concern at what would happen Adare if the rezoning happened.
A confidential report carried out for the council by urban design consultants, Nicholas de Jong Associates, identified 150 acres of potential development land near the village. This land could hold 1,800 houses, increasing the population from 1,300 to more than 7,000.
A senior council source said: “We need to retain the character of the village and to achieve that we feel the population should not increase above 2,600.”
The draft development plan for Adare will shortly go on display. The public can make submissions on all aspects of the plan including the rezoning of land.