New UDC planning call could put Naas Draft Development Plan in disarray

NAAS, 8 DECEMBER, 1998 (Exclusive by Trish Whelan and Brian Byrne)

An official request to consider rezoning further land in Naas could lead to an increase of more than 50% in the amount of land rezoned for the Naas Draft Development Plan. And it could put into disarray the recently-voted package by members of the town's UDC in which more than 90 acres was voted for rezoning as housing and commercial development opportunity - against the strong advice of County Planner Philip Jones. The new call for a special planning meeting to consider a previously-rejected submission from Moorestar Ltd, for a 40-acre development of housing, a hotel and parkland, has come from the leas-cathaoirleach of Naas UDC, Cllr Seamie Moore. This follows strong criticism of Naas UDC by the chairman of the Caragh Court/Green/Meadows Residents Association, Tom Grace (pictured here on Caragh Bridge), for not even considering the Moorestar application. He says it would have solved a long-standing safety issue in the area where Naas UDC has failed to provide adequate public lighting and a new bridge over the canal on Caragh Road, and where some 240 houses were built in the last 15 years. According to Tom Grace, levies for these facilities were paid on the house-buyers' behalf by the developer of these houses and should have been used to provide them.

The company was offering to build a new bridge across the canal to replace the existing one, which Mr Grace says is 'a death trap' and falling apart. He also points out that it was never meant for the level of traffic currently using it, and that with more houses planned for Caragh this traffic is likely to increase even further. And he said walking the road between the estates and Caragh Bridge at night is a 'no no'.

Mr Grace says his association has not taken an official stance on the prospect of the new development, but that soundings from individuals in the area show that they would be prepared to have some extra houses nearby if they got the bridge and lights that would make the area a safer place for local people and their children. The plan from Moorstar would have included the pedestrianisation of the old bridge.

In a letter to the cathaoirleach of Naas UDC, Paddy Behan, Cllr Seamie Moore says this is a very serious concern for the safety of over 1,000 people who have no safe pedestrian access to the town. "Any accidents or fatalities due to this lack of planning or consideration of the people's concerns will be blamed directly on the members of Naas UDC."

The situation comes against the background of the recent rezoning of Oldtown Estate for private housing and commercial developments, in which developers Lehmex International provided a site for a school and offered the 18th century Oldtown Gardens to the town of Naas. The deliberations of the councillors were marked by claims of intimidation by several councillors, both in favour of that development and opposed to it. It is understood that an investigation into these claims is currently under way.

Though no detailed plans for the Moorestar project are available, it could mean an extra 250 houses in the area, with access being provided through the development to the Canal Basin area of Naas. Given a palpable sense from Naas people that there are already too many houses being built in the town for its infrastructure, it is reasonable to believe that the attempt to revive the Moorestar proposal will spark strong reaction.

© 1998 Telling Tales Ltd