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Minutes of the Special Meeting of Kildare County Council held on Monday, 22 October 2007 at 11am in the Council Chamber,
Áras Chill Dara, Naas.

Present: Councillor M Glennon (Mayor), Councillors P Black, F Browne, K Byrne, G Conway, M Dalton, L Doyle, S Doyle, F Dukes, D Fitzpatrick, R Hendy, B Hillis, M Miley, T McEvoy, J McGinley, M Nolan, F O’Loughlin, J J Power, K Ridge,

Absent: Councillors W Callaghan, S Griffin, P Kelly, G McDonagh, P McNamara, B Weld

Also Present: M Malone, County Manager, J Lahart, P Minnock, E O’Sullivan, J Boland (Directors of Services) A. Aspell, (Meetings Administrator) and other officials

The Mayor indicated that the Fianna Fáil Group had requested a brief deferral of the start of the meeting to discuss an urgent matter.

Resolved: on the proposal of Councillor O’Loughlin, seconded by Councillor McGinley, to defer the start of the meeting to 11.20am.

Kildare County Development Plan 2005-2011 –
Two Year Progress Report

The Manager’s report on the Kildare County Development Plan 2005-2011 Two Year Progress Report dated September 2007 had been circulated to the members.

The Manager informed the members Section 15(2) of the Planning and Development Act 2000-2006 required him to present a mid-term progress report on the six year Development Plan 2005-2011.  He advised the members that the Council was constantly assessing and reacting to priority needs at local level as well as countywide level.  He further outlined that some objectives of the Plan will be implemented over and beyond the period of the Plan.  He stated that there were major challenges facing the Council such as demographics, population growth, infrastructure requirements.  He highlighted the need to promote the building of better communities and the facilitation and promotion of economic development.

The Manager referred to the changes in the Planning and Development Act and Regional Planning Guidelines which have impacted on planning and service delivery.  He outlined the significant demands being placed on infrastructure due to the need for housing resulting from population increase.  He stated that significant progress had been made by Kildare County Council, in association with other government bodies, in meeting these demands.  The Manager pointed to the impending launch of the Economic Strategy for the county and stated that this was essential to the continued economic and social development of the county. 

Mr Lahart introduced the Kildare County Development Plan 2005-2011 Two Year Progress Report to the members and made reference to the Progress Report and Review of the County Kildare Housing Strategy dated October 2007 which had been circulated to the members.  In referring to the objectives contained within the Plan, Mr Lahart advised the members that some objectives would be achieved during the life of the Plan, while implementation of other more strategic goals would exceed the life of the Plan.  Mr Lahart informed the members on the layout of the progress report and advised that he intended to go through it chapter by chapter.

Chapter 1 – Strategic Context and Vision for Kildare
Mr Lahart focused on changes that have occurred since the introduction of the Plan in June 2005, mentioning in particular Wind Energy Guidelines 2006 and Sustainable Rural Housing Guidelines for Planning Authorities 2005.  He also made reference to Strategic Environmental Assessment Guidelines 2004 and highlighted projects in the county which may go through this process.

Chapter 2 – Economic Strategy
Mr Lahart referred to the Economic Strategy for the county which is due to be launched in the near future.  He also referred to areas of significant employment potential in the county such as the launch of a master plan for Millennium Park.  In relation to broadband he informed the members that a staff member had now been assigned to assist with the roll out of broadband throughout the county.  He also referred to significant tourism developments in the county, including the hosting of the Ryder Cup in 2006, the opening of the Kildare Village Retail Outlet and the restoration of Castletown House.

Chapter 3 – Physical Infrastructure Strategy
Mr Lahart informed the members that a major challenge facing the Council was matching infrastructural development with population growth.  He advised the members that Kildare County Council continually liaises with other agencies such as Iarnrod Eireann, C.I.E., National Roads Authority etc. in relation to improving the infrastructure of the county.  In relation to water/waste water Mr Lahart informed the members that provision of services had kept pace with development to date, apart from the Osberstown catchment area.

In relation to Environmental issues, Mr Lahart advised the members that an Environment Awareness Officer had been appointed by the Council.  He confirmed that enforcement actions were ongoing and that the Council were collaborating with the Environmental Protection Agency in relation to the nitrates objective.  He stated that the areas of waste management and recycling were important issues to be addressed.  He pointed out that the report deals with control of waste activities and environmental awareness/education.

Chapter 4 – Social Strategy
Mr Lahart advised the members that the employment of a Research and Statistics Officer had been very beneficial.  He also highlighted the Education Bursaries awarded by the Council over the past number of years. 

Chapter 5 – Housing
Mr Lahart outlined the progress made to date in relation to addition of properties to Council stock under the Part V process and also referred to the supplementary report on the Housing Strategy circulated to the members.

Chapter 6 – Rural Housing Strategy
Mr Lahart informed the members that the Rural Housing Strategy Guidelines, introduced as a result of recommendations from the Rural Housing Sub-Committee, had assisted Planning staff greatly in interpreting the County Development Plan Rural Housing Policy.  In relation to the development of settlements, Mr Lahart stated that it was important to take pro-active measures to guide developments in settlements with due consideration to the objectives of the Plan.

Chapter 7 – Retail
Mr Lahart informed the members that the Greater Dublin Area Retail Strategy was currently under review and a report is expected within the first half of 2008.  He made reference to significant retail developments in the county such as the Marshalsea Development in Naas, Whitewater in Newbridge, Kavanagh’s Mills site in Maynooth and the Kildare Retail Village.

Chapter 8 – Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Mr Lahart referred to government policy which strive to ensure that buildings are developed in an environmentally sustainable and energy efficient way.

Chapter 9 – Telecommunications Strategy
Mr Lahart informed the members of improvements in the roll out of broadband in the county, which in turn will add to the attractiveness of the county as a place to do business, referring in particular to the appointment of a dedicated officer to facilitate roll out.

Chapter 10 – Agriculture and the Equine Industry
Mr Lahart made reference to the redevelopment of the Curragh Racecourse, which is underway, and the new development of Horse Racing Ireland Headquarters at Ballymany, Newbridge.  He also referred to a study and guidance document titled “Reusing Farm Buildings, a Kildare Perspective”, stating that this will be a useful document to assist in refurbishment/reuse of traditional farm buildings

Chapter 11 – Forestry and Boglands
Mr Lahart stated that further work needed to be done in the area of promoting the use of bogland, such as for recreation use.

Chapter 12 – Prevention of Major Accidents
Mr Lahart made reference to the enterprises in the county affected by the Seveso II Directive.  He also stated that Kildare County Council is actively involved in all aspects of prevention of major accidents and in dealing with major emergencies and participates in national review of emergency procedures.

Chapter 13 – Tourism and Recreation
Mr Lahart pointed out that County Kildare had a lot to offer in the area of tourism and recreation and made reference to the Ryder Cup, Kildare Retail Village and the Oxegen and Racing Festival at Punchestown.

Chapter 14 – Extractive Industry
Mr Lahart stated that given the level of construction in the county and the proximity to Dublin it is important that the extractive industry in the county is supported/regulated appropriately.

Chapter 17 – Heritage
Mr Lahart informed the members that Kildare County Council employs a full time Heritage Officer and that a broad range of issues are covered.

Chapter 18 and 19 – Landscape Character Areas and Protected Views
and Scenic Routes
Mr Lahart advised the members that landscape character areas, protected views and scenic routes are protected in the development control process.

Chapter 20 – Architectural Heritage
Mr Lahart informed the members that the architectural heritage of the county is protected by the Record of Protected Structures and the development control process and confirmed that this Record is subject to current review.

Chapter 21 – Architectural Conservation Areas
Mr Lahart advised the members that there had been no changes or reviews to designated Architectural Conservation Areas.

Chapter 22 – Aerodromes
Mr Lahart informed the members that there had been limited work carried out in this area to date, however, a review of safety zones is currently underway.

Chapter 25 – Towns and Villages
Mr Lahart advised the members in relation to the Local Area Plans for towns and villages around the county which are at various stages of development.

Mr M O’Leary, Senior Engineer, presented a briefing note to the members, dated October 2007, setting out the current position in relation to water supply and wastewater treatment capacity in the county.  He informed the members that the level of growth experienced over the last ten years in the county has put an inordinate strain on the water services infrastructure in the county.  Recent and planned investment under the Water Services Investment Programme has and will deliver significant improvements to the water services infrastructure throughout the county, however, these improvements will only address current deficiencies and meet short-term demand. 

Mr O’Leary outlined the position with regard to water supply for the county and stated that allocation of additional capacity from the Barrow (Srowland), Ballymore Eustace and Leixlip, all due to be delivered in 2010, must have regard to the Councils priorities, particularly with regard to the provision of sustainable employment.  Beyond this, long-term growth is dependent on the delivery of a major new regional source.  In relation to wastewater, Mr O’Leary outlined the present position and set out the short and medium term situation.  He highlighted to the members that Kildare is very dependent on regional solutions currently under consideration for both water and wastewater. 

Mr P Minnock, Director of Services presented a progress report and review of the County Kildare Housing Strategy, dated October 2007, to the members.  He set out the position with regard to the Regional Planning Guidelines and highlighted the new target regional population figures issued by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government in February 2007.  In relation to the review of sufficiency of zoned and serviced lands, Mr Minnock informed the members that the amount of land currently zoned for residential development is twice that required in order to meet current targets.  With regard to Part V affordable housing, Mr Minnock advised the members that the 20% requirement should be maintained.   In conclusion Mr Minnock gave the members an overview of progress in the provision of housing in the county. 

At this point the Mayor agreed to take comments/questions from the members on a chapter by chapter basis.

Chapter 1 – Strategic Context and Vision for Kildare

Councillor Hendy
§ Concerned that Kildare is 94% dependent on Dublin for water.
§ Upgrade of treatment plants at Osberstown and Leixlip is a major issue.
§ Promotion of use of alternative energy sources is the way forward.
§ In relation to roads infrastructure, the M9 by-pass of both Athy and Castledermot is very welcome.
§ In relation to tourism, improvement to signposts throughout the county is much needed.

Councillor Dukes
§ Requested clarification as to whether this process was a review of the Development Plan or a progress report on the implementation of the Plan to date.
§ Are the Regional Planning Guidelines being reviewed in relation to Dublin?
§ Has Kildare County Council any plans to change requirements for apartment sizes in line with standards introduced by Dublin City Council?

Councillor Ridge
§ Requested clarification as to whether Kildare County Council was using the same guidelines for apartment sizes as Dublin City Council?

Councillor O’Loughlin
§ Requested clarification as to how this process of review fits into making changes to the Development Plan?
§ More economic development is needed in the southern part of the county and this needs to be incorporated into the Development Plan.
§ Commuting/public transport are important issues for the population of the county and in order to improve the situation Kildare County Council needs to forge stronger links with transport providers.
§ Design of apartments in the county needs to be improved to take account of modern family units.

Councillor McEvoy
§ Requested confirmation as to the amount of land available for development in settlements and populaton –v- Regional Planning Guildelines.
§ Considered that provision of infrastructure in the county should not be led by population increase.

Mr Lahart responded to the issues raised in relation to Chapter 1 as follows:
· He clarified that this process was not a review of the Development Plan, but a means of giving a progress report to the members.  Any changes to the Development Plan would need to be done using the variation process as set out in planning legislation.
· He acknowledged the county’s dependence on Dublin for water supply and restated the plans to reduce the dependency to in the region of 50%/60%.
· He stated that there were no obstacles in the planning process to considering proposals for wind energy in the county, but   relatively few applications have come forward.
· He advised the members that the Planning and Economic Development Strategic Planning Committee had considered the issue of signposting and referred to a scheme being carried out in the north of the county.
· He confirmed that a formal review of the Regional Planning Guidelines would be carried out in 2008.
· The issues raised with regard to apartment sizes could be considered further by the Planning and Economic Development Strategic Planning Committee.
· He made reference to a number of significant proposals for development in the mid-county area which will attract additional employment to the county.
· He acknowledged that problems being faced by commuters were very significant and identified the need to provide further employment within the county.
· Confirmed that the amount of zoned land in the county is sufficient to meet Regional Planning Guideline figures and anticipated growth.
· He stated that it was important to match infrastructure development to population increase and that relevant plans need to be incorporated into local policy.  At present population growth has exceeded the expectations of the Regional Planning Guidelines and we do not have the matching infrastructure.  Advised that Regional Planning Guideline figures for Kildare need to reflect reality as funding for infrastructure linked to RPG projections.

Chapter 2 – Economic Strategy

Councillor Ridge
§ Highlighted concerns in relation to the Liffey Valley Park Strategy – no government funding has been allocated for this project and contributions from relevant local authorities is contingent on a national contribution.
§ Requested clarification as to who would drive the objective to set up a task force in conjunction with the relevant authorities to investigate and pursue the provision of an additional third level facility within the county.

Councillor L Doyle
§ Means of assessing contributions for car parking from developers needs to be reconsidered.
§ Employment opportunities in north west Kildare need to be encouraged.
§ Wind farms on areas of peatland should be developed further.

Councillor McEvoy
§ Development along the River Liffey should be controlled in order to ensure generous set-back from the river.

Councillor Black
§ Development of broadband in the county very important in order to assist with working from home and also attracting industry.
§ Need to promote golf tourism in the county.

Mr Lahart responded to the issues raised in relation to Chapter 2 as follows:
· He agreed that funding was not yet in place for the Liffey Valley Park Strategy.
· He stated that development carried out in Clane close to the River Liffey was influenced by proximity of pre-existing developments and confirmed that different criteria related to urban/rural areas.
· He agreed that wind farms were open to consideration in the north west of the county, but advised that few concrete development proposals had been submitted to date.  He pointed out, however, that there may be complications for development of wind farms in other parts of the county.
· In relation to broadband he advised the members that Kildare County Council had appointed a member of staff to assist in the roll out of broadband throughout the county.
· He agreed that golf in the county was a good tourist product.

It was agreed that further consideration of the Progress Report would continue when a suitable date was identified in the meetings calendar.

The meeting then concluded.