Local councillors are due to make a decision next Monday on whether to make a number of changes to the Kilkenny County Development Plan.
The two main issues at stake are a plan to allow for increased residential development at the Mount Juliet Estate in Thomastown, and a similar rezoning of land at St Joseph’s Road, the Butts in Kilkenny City, so that more houses can be built there.
The need for more houses to be built in Kilkenny is universally accepted by all councillors, but the proposed rezoning of land has proven more controversial.
At Mount Juliet in Thomastown, the Chief Executive of Kilkenny County Council Colette Byrne has proposed that the plan provide for up to 16 new residential dwellings south-east of the existing accommodation in the south paddocks.
In its original submission on behalf of Mount Juliet, Tom Phillips Associates argued that lands within the estate 'have the potential to provide for further residential development, as outlined in the Proposed Variation 1a...'
They proposed further variations to the wording of the amendment, with a new objective to identify sites at The Foxes Covert for residential development also.
Objective 8 of the plan is proposed to be amended to limit the number of additional lodges at the Rose Garden to six. In their submission, Mount Juliet say that if there must be a limit on residential development adjacent to the Rose Garden lodges, it should be 12 units.
They also say there is a number of 'infill opportunity sites' in the southern part of the estate, at The Foxes Covert, which have not been identified in the Proposed Variation 1a, which they feel are appropriate for residential development.
They are calling for provision for the development of three residential dwellings at this location.
However, a number of local residents of South Paddock, Mount Juliet, represented by GVA Planning and Regeneration Ltd, expressed concern that the proposed variation facilitates the latest phase in the incremental development of the estate in order to provide private housing.
“Our clients are also concerned that this change is being made without the support of evidence as to why it is required, what the impacts would be, or how it would be beneficial to the tourism function of the estate,” their submission notes.
There followed a considerable number of submissions from individuals expressing concerns over any increased development, the impact this might have on the landscape and the environment, and the level of engagement with residents.
They are worried that 'over-development' will detract from the unique heritage of the area.
In her amended recommendation, the chief executive sets out that the provision for development be ‘associated with the estate’s tourism, leisure and recreational function, without detracting from the estate’s landscape character and built and natural environment’.
Cllr Malcolm Noonan has said that the mid-term review of the Development Plan may be an opportune time to look at Mount Juliet and the amount of development taking place there.