Council to slow development in 'overzoned' Ennis area


DEVELOPERS IN the greater Ennis area are facing further writedowns in the value of land banks following Clare County Council’s move to “freeze” large tracts from development around the town.

The council’s move is in response to concerns expressed by the Department of the Environment about overzoning in the Ennis and environs development plan, adopted last year.

The department has pointed out to the council that there are 4,500 acres of zoned land around Ennis that would cater for a population increase of 100,000.

The Ennis area has a population of 28,700; official forecasts state that there will be a population increase of only 6,300 to 2020.

In a proposal put to the department and now agreed by members of Clare County Council and Ennis Town Council, the county council is proposing to phase development on lands zoned residential for development.

The council has agreed to overhaul its development plan after the department warned that if it did not address the overzoning, Minister for the Environment John Gormley would be forced to direct the council to make the necessary changes to the adopted plan with immediate effect.

Documentation and maps circulated to councillors show that the council has decided to phase the development of housing into three phases, rather than dezone sites from residential to “open countryside”.

According to the proposal, Clare County Council will allow the development of lands contained in phase two following 75 per cent of lands in phase one being developed for residential housing.

The council states that phase three will only be developed following 75 per cent of phase one and phase two being developed for residential purposes.

The house market is stagnant in Ennis, however developers with land in phases two and three may not be able to develop for a number of years as they wait for housing applications to proceed in phase one.

The phasing has emerged from a series of behind-closed-doors meetings of the councillors where the detail of the plan was worked out.

The maps outline the areas at various locations around Ennis and in some instances, phase-one and phase-two designations are located adjacent each other.

The council does not supply a rationale as to why some sites are outlined in designated phase one and others phase two.

A large site at Woodstock on the western outskirts of Ennis is isolated in the open countryside, but will be developed in the first phase.

Clare County Council is to publish the plans so as to invite submissions on its proposal from the department and the public before the issue goes back to the councillors.