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Councillors object to Carraig Cluain two-storey houses

Thursday, 26 October 2017

A PLAN for five houses in Tullamore has been put on hold because not enough councillors were present for a County Council planning vote.

Hanney Properties Ltd are seeking permission to build five houses, including four two-storey three-bedroom semi-detached homes, at Carraig Cluain in the town.

County Council planners recommended on Monday that a material contravention of the Town Plan be passed to clear the way for a grant of planning permission.

The material contravention is required because the houses are to be built on a site which is zoned "open space", a zoning which means housing is "not normally permitted", a report before councillors said.

The report put to the councillors said the site is not used as open space and its use for housing was "deemed appropriate".

The development is proposed for undeveloped land remaining from a housing estate.

Council official Tom Shanahan said it was his understanding the site had been used as a "compound" or "working area" and there had been no objections to the original planning application and no objections or submissions on the proposed material contravention.

The meeting was told that not less than three-quarters of the total number of councillors would have to vote in favour of the material contravention for it to be passed.

Cllr Tommy McKeigue, Fine Gael, immediately objected to the planning recommendation on the grounds that two-storey houses were not suitable for the site.

"It has nothing to do with the zoning, there's enough green space out there. It has to do with the type of housing," he said.

Cllr McKeigue said two single-storey houses had been built at the end of the site and there were bungalows at the back of them on the Knockowen Road.

"The reason those two bungalows were built was for that very purpose," he said.

"I'm not going to support the zoning status if there's going to be two-storey houses lobbed into the middle," he said.

"You had no objections to it from the neighbours because they didn't know it was happening," Cllr McKeigue added.

"A new developer has come into the arena here with a new name and the people there didn't understand what was happening."

He said the site notice was not seen by people because it was close to the end of a cul-de-sac.

The councillor added that he would have no problem if the design was changed from two-storey houses to bungalows.

Mr Shanahan confirmed to Cllr Dervill Dolan that the zoning would have to be changed from "open space" to "residential" and the Independent councillor then queried if a certain amount of open space was required for the overall development.

Cllr Declan Harvey also declared he was against the proposed development for the same reasons as Cllr McKeigue.

"Why are we putting two storeys in, looking over bungalows?" asked the Fianna Fail councillor.

"I think two storeys would destroy it and if people out there weren't aware of it, they are now," he said.

Cllr Liam Quinn, council chair, pointed out that the required number of councillors were not present to make a decision on the matter and it was deferred until later in the meeting for clarification of some of the planning issues.

When it came back on the agenda after 6pm on Monday there were even fewer councillors present.

"We've only 11, we need 15 to go ahead so we can't deal with this today," said Cllr Quinn.

It was agreed that the matter be postponed but one member, Cllr John Leahy, said he was concerned about the deferral in the midst of a housing crisis.

"We've a private developer that's willing to build five houses," commented the Renua leader.

"It might be an issue with residents but to say that we can't provide houses through the chamber because we haven't got enough [councillors] here doesn't bear well," said Cllr Leahy.

"If the developer decides he's going to pull out who else is going to provide those five houses?" he asked.

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