Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghail has claimed the new Kildare development plan will result in “excessive” housing density in large county towns and villages, and push people away from rural areas.
A submission from Mr Ó Fearghail to Kildare County Council was one of hundreds published on its website after the closure this week of a public consultation on its draft 2023-2029 development plan.
The Fianna Fáil TD for Kildare South has been Ceann Comhairle of the Dáil since 2016. The office holder, automatically re-elected at the next general election, is traditionally precluded from active participation in politics but remains free to make representations for constituents. In his submission, Mr Ó Fearghail said he recognised the need for additional housing density in certain parts of the county but complained that the “overwhelming direction” in the plan was towards too much density. He said the draft plan pointed to “a massive drop in home ownership together with an increase in social and supported housing accommodation”, arguing that this would have a “profound impact” on the county’s demography.
“Indeed the projected housing breakdown taken together with massively increased densities will inevitably give rise to a lack of social cohesion, cause difficulties with community integration and will create an urban environment that is entirely alien to the Ireland and Kildare we have known,” Mr Ó Fearghail said.
“These matters require serious consideration and I would suggest significant adjustments.”
In addition, he argued that the draft plan implied that facilitating “rural-generated” housing applications would be dependent on the viability of smaller towns and rural settlements. “This is undoubtedly code for forcing applicants who meet the rural housing policy criteria to abandon those areas and available lands in favour of relocating to (homes) within towns and villages.”