Plans to rezone flood-prone lands at Naas spark concern

Planning watchdog calls on Kildare council to re-evaluate findings for proposed rezoning

The State's planning watchdog has expressed concern that Kildare County Council is proposing to rezone several parcels of undeveloped lands on the outskirts of Naas that are prone to flooding.

The Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR) claims proposals in the council’s new draft local area plan for Naas to rezone lands for housing and industrial use in a number of locations identified as high-risk flood areas are premature.

The regulator said the sites did not comply with official guidelines for planning development given their distance from Naas town centre, the non-essential nature of the sites for regeneration purposes, and the availability of alternative lands.

Kildare County Council is proposing to rezone undeveloped land for housing on two sites on the eastern and western edges of the town as well as several sites for enterprise and industrial uses to the north of Naas close to the M7.


High uncertainty

In advance of a possible flood relief scheme for the town, the regulator said there was high uncertainty about the risk posed by flooding in Naas due to a lack of data.

It has called on Kildare County Council to re-evaluate its findings used to justify the proposed rezoning in each case.

The regulator said three sites near the Millennium Park business park earmarked for rezoning for enterprise use should be removed, with the council identifying “water compatible uses” for the area.

It made a similar recommendation in relation to the proposed rezoning of land for housing on Blessington Road and Finlay Park.

Commenting on the draft plan overall, the deputy regulator, Anne Marie O’Connor, said the challenge for Naas was to control the pattern of development over recent years which had seen a shift in a northerly direction towards the M7 motorway.

Ms O’Connor said the trend has resulted in the creation of a peripheral arc which was detached from the established town centre of Naas, which had created a disproportionate reliance on car transport in the area.

While the draft plan was promoting many notable and positive approaches to tackling the issue, the OPR said the long-term plan for Naas must be to build a much stronger and vibrant town centre and to promote a pattern of development that was more conducive to public transport as well as pedestrians and cyclists.