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Minutes of the Special Meeting of Kildare County Council on Monday 25th February 2008 in the Council Chamber, Áras Chill Dara, Naas

Present were: Councillors M. Glennon Mayor, R. Hendy, S. Griffin, B. Hillis, F. Dukes, B. Weld, M. Nolan, K. Ridge, J. McGinley, K. Byrne, F. Browne, JJ Power, T. McEvoy, G. McDonagh, M. Miley, P. Black, W. Callaghan, D. Fitzpatrick, S. Doyle, G. Conway, P. Kelly

In attendance: M. Malone Co. Manager, J. Lahart Director of Services, G. Halton A/Director of Services, M. Foley Meetings Administrator

01/0208sp – Midterm Review of Kildare County Development Plan 2005-2011

The purpose of the meeting was to continue the mid-term review of the County Development Plan.

Chapters 5&6: Housing & Rural Housing Strategy

The discussion commenced with the review of Chapter 6 Rural Housing Strategy.  Cllr. S. Doyle referred to the difficulty regarding people who are selling houses in the settlements in the context of the buyer having to satisfy the local need criteria.  She also referred to the new Sustainable Residential Guidelines in Urban Areas and she raised the issue of the size of local authority houses particularly the old person’s dwellings where people had mobility problems.  She suggested either eliminating the one-bed units or increasing the minimum square footage.  Cllr. McGinley agreed and referred to the new policy of Dublin City Council who was opting for less one-beds, increasing size and including storage space.

John Lahart said there was a move at national level for improvements in this regard and it was on the agenda for discussion at the next Economic Planning & Development SPC meeting from which a policy document would be prepared.    He also referred to the Building for All national policy document which should have an influence on accessibility issues. Regarding housing in the settlements he said it was Council policy to be as co-operative and flexible as possible with developers and to encourage them to attend pre-planning meetings.

Chapter 4: Social Strategy

Gerry Halton said that there was a crossover between the economic and social strategies and each one had an impact on the other.  He referred to the three strands of the social strategy – social inclusion which involved participation by people, social capital which involved interaction between people and social wealth which referred to quality of life.  He referred to examples of work in hand.

Cllr. S. Doyle expressed satisfaction with the work but referred to the need for a better socio-economic mix in communities and she suggested that the Community Workers in the Housing Department move to the Community & Enterprise Department.  Cllr. Kelly agreed and said the Tenant Liaison Officers should be better resourced so that we could support communities in our own developments from the beginning.  Cllr. Doyle asked whether income from development contributions could be used in the management of playgrounds.  She suggested that the community grants be re-structured so that greater amounts were awarded in a more focussed way.  She also suggested that the Councillors participate more in the Social Inclusion Measures Working Group and other such committees.

Cllr. Hendy referred to the problem of Travellers camping in an indiscriminate way and creating litter problems.  He said more work needed to be done by the Kildare Traveller Interagency Strategy Group.  Cllr. Griffin added that there was also an issue with Travellers not sending their children to mixed schools or secondary schools.  Cllr. McGinley said problems stemmed from the non-provision of transient sites and he referred to the agreement that Dublin, Meath, Wicklow and Kildare were to address that issue jointly.  Cllr. Dukes agreed and suggested that the Travellers Task Force be revived.

Cllr. Griffin referred to the poor linkages between the Dept. of Education & Science & KCC in light of the fact that a new school has been allocated to Maynooth which no one knew about.  He complimented the work of Comhairle na nÓg and suggested the delegates be invited to meet the Directors of Service and the County Manager for a question and answer session.  Cllr. McGinley agreed.

Cllr. McEvoy said the extent of physical & social infrastructure should relate to planning permissions and major deficits in both should be stated so that applicants will be aware of them and won’t submit expensive planning applications which can’t succeed.

John Lahart replied that a structure was in place to meet officials of the Dept. of Education & Science with a view to easing the planning process for them and getting a picture of what they had planned.  It was in place for over six months and was working well.  He referred to the new Social Infrastructure Assessment process for developments greater than 50 units which was working well and he undertook to report further to the members later in the year.

Gerry Halton said there were strong links between the Housing and Community & Enterprise departments but suggested that they could be improved in the area of anti social behaviour.  He said Dr. Martina Roche’s research work could assist in understanding the problem so that a solution could be found.  He agreed that it was a good idea to encourage young people to come into the Council without patronising them.  The issues with Travellers needed to be better understood and discussed at SPC level with a view to finding solution.

Chapters 7, 8 & 9 – Retail, Energy & Telecommunications

John Lahart said leakage in the area of retail prior to the adoption of the CDP had been addressed and progress was identified in this mid-term review.  At regional level a retail strategy was being prepared and the Planning Department was participating in it.  It was intended to appoint consultants to prepare a retail strategy for Kildare following that.  In the area of energy he said it was likely that there would be a concentration on planning control and implementation of relevant standards in the future.  Regarding telecommunications he said it needed work at a national level and in Kildare an officer had been appointed to support the government’s strategy.

Cllr. Kelly referred to the retail deficit in North East Kildare and said he thought the proposal for a new town centre in Leixlip would have been further advanced by now.  He said the members had been told that the Collinstown LAP would follow the Leixlip LAP the review of which would not commence until May 2008 meaning that it would be another year before the Collinstown LAP would be completed.  This was in conflict with the provisions of the Planning & Development Act 2001, Sections 19 & 20 which provide for a new LAP on newly zoned lands, where proposed, to be made within two years of the County Plan.  He said the intention initially was that the Collinstown LAP would inform the Leixlip LAP but this seemed to have been reversed.  Councillors McGinley & Griffin agreed.

John Lahart said the Act was unclear regarding delays in preparing LAPs and legal advice had been received which said that existing zonings remained in place until a new plan was made.  He said the Council was assisting the developers involved in Collinstown at operational and senior level and staff were made available to them at every level.  Following re-iteration of Cllr. Kelly’s points John Lahart said that work had commenced on the Leixlip LAP in so far as two studies were underway – the Strategic Environmental Assessment and the background issues study – both of which would inform the plan.

Cllr. McGinley proposed that the Council proceed with the Collinstown LAP as provided for in the CDP.  The proposal was seconded by Cllr. Kelly and adopted.

Chapters 10 & 11 – Agriculture & the Equine Industry, Forestry & Boglands

John Lahart referred to a proposed meeting with the Irish Peatland Conservation Council the aim of which was to identify strategic uses for worked-out boglands.  He said specific actions would be identified shortly.

Cllr. Black acknowledged the support of KCC for the equine industry and particularly its support of the facility at Ballymany for Horse Racing Ireland.

Cllr. Hendy welcomed the support for the re-use of farm buildings and the new publication in that regard.  He added that he would like to see access to bog land addressed in any future strategy.

Chapter 12 – Prevention of Major Accidents

Cllr. S. Doyle referred to the need to improve signage on national routes.

Cllr. Miley asked about accident prevention measures following the air crash on the N7 last year. 

Cllr. Hendy referred to the need to highlight the dangers of motorists using the “ghost islands” and he proposed that we ask the NRA to carry out an advertising campaign.

John Lahart said such campaigns were the responsibility of the Road Safety Authority and he agreed that we should ask them to conduct an information campaign.  He said responsibility for air safety lay with the Irish Aviation Authority and he said a study Safety Issues at Airports was on-going in small airports nationally.

Chapter 14 – Extractive Industry

John Lahart reported that the Section 261 process was almost complete.  Cllr. Hendy said the management of this important industry needed to be tightened up especially after extraction and proper infrastructure needed to be in place from the beginning.

Cllr. Black referred to the Sunnyhill Road to the N78 which had recently been repaired after damage from spillage from mixer machines and the problem seemed to be happening again.  He also asked whether the Hill of Allen could be protected from further quarrying.

John Lahart referred to the Development Contribution Scheme which provided for funding to mitigate against damage and which would also address the infrastructural deficit.  He said road spillages were a prosecutable offence.  He said issues in connection with the Hill of Allen were coming to a conclusion and an agreement was being reached.

Cllr. Dukes referred to the discussions on the County Development Plan, specifically an agreement at the meeting of 3rd August 2004 that the wording of the policy regarding the protection of the Hill of Allen would be included in the new CDP.  It had not been included and she proposed that this be done now.  Cllr. Black supported her proposal.

John Lahart said he would review the draft agreement currently being finalised against the policy in the 1999 CDP to ensure that it gave appropriate protection to the Hill of Allen.

Cllr. Kelly pointed out that if the proposal was adopted in 2004 then it formed part of the current CDP although it did not appear in the printed version.  The Manager undertook to confirm the point, have it inserted into the 2005 CDP and have regard to it in the current agreement being drawn up.

Adjournment

It was agreed to adjourn further consideration of the Mid-Term Progress Report to the next meeting of the Council.