Planning problems in Wicklow
Sir, - As the only elected member on Wicklow County Council who objected to the adoption of the current Draft Development Plans for Newtownmountkennedy and Kilcoole, I hope that you will give me an opportunity to outline my reasons for doing so.
The dramatic levels of growth allowed for in both Draft Plans is the result of a decision on the part of the elected members (and not the planners) of Wicklow County Council to move the anticipated 2016 population limits agreed in the 1999 County Development Plan back to 2005. In effect, this means that the 2016 population limit of 6,000 for Newtown will be fast-tracked by means of a massive programme of rezoning, with the result that that figure will be reached by the year 2005. Likewise in the case of Kilcoole, where the 2016 population limit of 4,500 will be reached over the next five-year period.
Even if one could accept the protestations of elected members that the 1999 County Development Plan underestimated the level of demand for housing in the county, the decision to contract 20 years' anticipated growth into a five-year period raises some serious questions about proper planning and development. It is clear that not alone are these Draft Development Plans in breach of the Strategic Planning Guidelines for the Greater Dublin Area, but their implementation threatens to overwhelm the existing physical, social, educational and community infrastructure in these villages.
Little wonder, then, that the residents of Newtown and Kilcoole have mobilised in their opposition to these plans. And if one considers the fact that the elected members may support similar or even greater levels of growth in subsequent (five year) Development Plans for these areas, there is every reason why local communities should engage in intensive political lobbying campaigns to ensure that these disastrous rezoning decisions are reversed and that the healthy and balanced development of these areas is ensured.
The planning scandals which have been revealed through the current tribunals have resulted in a general loss of confidence by the public in their elected representatives. It is vitally important therefore that elected representatives attempt to address this loss of public confidence through ensuring that the planning decisions which they make are fully transparent and conform with widely accepted criteria of good planning and development. - Yours, etc.,
Deirdre De Burca, Wicklow Co. Councillor (Green Party), Greystones, Co Wicklow.