The zoning of land in Callan is being modified by Kilkenny County Council in order to meet regional planning guidelines.
This will involve creating “phased” zoning to reduce the amount of live zoning from the current 63 hectares down to a goal of 4.1 hectares.
Outlining the changes to members of the council’s Callan electoral area, senior planner Denis Malone explained that the changes are being made based on estimations of population growth of around 6-7% over the next five to six years. The town’s Local Area Plan will then be reviewed again in 2015.
“It’s like any of the other plans. We are going to phase the lands; we are not going to dezone them. A certain amount will be in Phase 1 and the rest will be in Phase 2,” he said.
Considerations of which lands will be in Phase 1 will depend on infrastructure such as schools, and also whether live planning permissions are in place.
In Callan, those slated to be in Phase 1 include sites at Friary Walk, Kings Court and Bolton Woods (residential), sites at West Street/ Chapel Lane (general business) and a mixed-use site at West Street/ Chapel Lane – a total of 15.2 hectares.
Current zonings in the town include 52.84 hectares of residential, 6.08 hectares of mixed use and 4.2 hectares of general use.
The plan is also to have a “justification test” in which the council will assess the merits of each application for permission within the zoned land. Mr Malone gave an example whereby if an existing housing estate has numerous unoccupied houses and an application was made to build a similar estate nearby, the council could rule that it was not appropriate to do so.
He said permission could be granted if landowners wanted to build one house on their lands for themselves or their children “but it’s not open to all and sundry to build on it.”
Ultimately, said Cllr Tom Maher (FG), none of this will matter much until the property market is revived.
“There will be no need for Phase 1 or Phase 2, 3 or 4 until the market starts moving, because there is no movement out there and there won’t be until the vast majority of unsold houses are sold,” he said, and until the availability of credit increases.
“If this review had never taken place, the market would have regulated it anyway,” he said. “It won’t run wild again for a long, long time.”
The plans are due to go on public display from the end of this week until February.