Concerns over Thomastown residential zoning ambitions

'I think we are under-shooting the development of Thomastown'

Sam Matthews

Reporter:

Sam Matthews

Email:

sam.matthews@kilkennypeople.ie

County hall

County Hall on John Street

Local councillors have questioned whether the amount of land being zoned for ‘Residential’ in Thomastown for the next eight years is sufficient.

At a meeting on Friday, councillors were given an update on the Thomastown Local Area Plan, which is currently being drafted. The Part 8 for four new units at Cloghabrody was approved in September, and a site appraisal is currently being carried out at Ladyswell for more.

Under the National Planning Framework (NPF), the population of Kilkenny county is expected to increase to 110,000 by 2026. Thomastown is expected to account for just under 2.5% of this, which is about 270 people.

Based on the average household size of 2.75 people per household, this means that 100 housing units will be required in the Thomastown area. On foot of that, it’s proposed that the local area plan will zone 6.7 hectares of lands for ‘New Residential’.

However, Fine Gael Councillor Patrick O’ Neill said he found this housing aspiration ‘unambitious’. He said there were almost 100 people on the housing list in the area at present.

“Are we tied into this?” he asked.

“There’s way more potential in Thomastown than 100 homes in eight years.”

Cllr Michael Doyle shared the concern: “I think we are under-shooting the development of Thomastown by only zoning that amount of land,” he said.

Senior planner Nicholas Louw said in terms of ambition, the council was ‘kind of hamstrung at this stage’. He said there were a number of factors, including the NPF’s requirement for a sequential approach and that everything needed to be based on existing infrastructure. The town grows in proportion to the county, and if a district town is added to it would come out of the city or rural areas.

Amy Granville, who gave the presentation to members said she could see Cllr O’ Neill’s point about ambition.

Mayor Peter ‘Chap’ Cleere said that the process had to conform to what was set out in the NPF, and if anything was lacking ambition, it was the NPF.

The draftof the document is expected to go on display early next month.Another information evening is to be organised, complemented by a social media campaign to increase the public’s awareness of the process.