8 July 2011 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Disappointment was voiced at Monday’s meeting of Monaghan Co Council with the lack of response from community groups to the initial consultation process held in relation to the preparation of the new Monaghan Co Development Plan.
Following comments by the members in this regard, Senior Planner Adrian Hughes said the planning staff of the Council had also been disappointed with the level of response they had seen from local bodies. While the Co Council had met with the Monaghan Community Forum in relation to the plan, there appeared to be a lack of will among the public to engage with the process.
Mr Hughes said that the first phase of the public consultation process was now terminated, but there would be at least one if not two more such opportunities taking place shortly.
Sinn Féin councillor Brian McKenna said quite a number of local organisations and community groups had been written to and informed that the review of the Development Plan was in progress, but he didn’t think there was a response from any of them.
He thought public consultation opportunities should be highlighted by the Co Council through the media, and expressed disappointment that the general public was not becoming involved in the review.
“It is no use crying over spilt milk after the Development Plan’s adoption about something that is in it,” Colr McKenna stated.
They had a highly active community sector, and he wondered why none of its groups had made submissions.
Independent councillor Paudge Connolly commented in relation to the plan that in a lot of respects the Co Council’s hands were tied in relation to development and planning. He was disappointed that the public didn’t buy into the public consultation process in a bigger way, as it was the people’s opportunity to have a say on how the county went forward from 2014 to 2019.
Colr Connolly said some of the issues raised at the public meetings should be attached to future letters to the community groups to give them an indication of where they might make submissions.
Seamus Treanor (Independent) referred to an article by Frank McDonald in last weekend’s Irish Times that dealt with the decision to locate a major shopping development on the outskirts of Cavan, and stated that he was glad Monaghan Co Council was still sticking with their policy of building such retail outlets within urban areas.
Strategic Policy Committee Chairman David Maxwell said the SPC had been meeting every second week for the last two months going through the Manager’s Reports in relation to the Development Plan and the Plan itself, and this would continue all over the summer as would the meetings with the political parties. Final submissions would come in September.
Colr Maxwell encouraged anyone with points they wished to make to contact the SPC or the planning section and they would make sure these views were in the final submissions.
Senior Planner Mr Hughes said that they had noticed on the last occasion that until it came to zoning there was not a willingness among the public to engage with the plan process. They had perhaps all been guilty of focusing too much on zoning in the last Development Plan. They were hoping the focus on zoning would not be as strong with the new plan, and he believed this was why legislation was drafted for local authorities not to consider zoning until all other aspects of the development plan process were completed.
Mr Hughes added that they would meet the political parties over the summer months to try to build a consensus on how to go forward in the process.
The issue of whether schools should be located in central urban areas was one raised by Brian McKenna in the course of Monday’s Development Plan discussions.
Referring to the location of three schools in close proximity in the Clones Road area of Monaghan Town, Colr McKenna said that the area had become “a nightmare” for traffic travelling along the road in question. Townspeople had once walked to school with their children, but now they were seeing cars going to schools to leave one child there.
It was absolutely choc-a-bloc in this location, and this was one of the reasons that had contributed to the need for a link road from the Clones Road over to the N12. Colr McKenna thought Monaghan Collegiate School was a prime example of where a school should be located – it was in a good location that did not interfere with traffic.
He believed that if they were looking at the development of schools into the future they should not have them close to or near the centre of towns, because this was creating traffic bedlam. In future they should locate schools on greenfield sites on the periphery of towns.
Fianna Fáil’s Robbie Gallagher said there had been funding available to alleviate the traffic congestion that Colr McKenna spoke of, but members of the Council had not supported the route in question and consequently the funding was lost.
Hugh McElvaney (Fine Gael) said the snarl of traffic on the Clones Road was outrageous and ridiculous, but he was not so sure that Colr Gallagher had given proper information as to the money for the road being lost. From memory he believed the proposal was carried by the Co Council but no money was allocated for it.
Colr Gallagher asked the Council executive to outline the factual situation in relation to the funding that was available at one point for the ring road linking the Clones Road with the N12. He believed that because the majority of the Council did not decide to go ahead with the project, the funding was lost.
Acting Co Manager David Fallon said he believed that, in September/October 2004, the Co Council voted in principle for the ring road. The project then came for Part VIII planning approval in 2007 and the Council did not vote for the Part VIII.
Colr Gallagher: Subsequently the funding was lost.
Carrickmacross Fianna Fáil councillor P J O’Hanlon expressed the view that the new Development Plan should contain a policy objective in support of the extended family, in relation to the granting of planning permission for one-off housing in rural areas.
He thought that if someone wanted to live beside their parents, they should be facilitated providing health and safety considerations in relation to the dwelling were met. Where such developments took place, the local community was a winner as well as the parents and the children themselves, and he thought this should be acknowledged in the Development Plan.
“This is something which has to be seriously looked at,” he stated. It would sustain the population of rural communities, and this in turn would sustain schools and football clubs. It was wrong that people had to move into urban areas to live because they could not get planning permission to build houses in the countryside.
Colr O’Hanlon proposed that it be written into the new Development Plan that Monaghan Co Council supported the extended family.
Colr McElvaney agreed with Colr O’Hanlon that the Co Council should encourage rather than discourage people to build their own homes.
Sinn Féin representative for North Monaghan Sean Conlon thought that a policy on the promotion of cycling initiatives should be included in the plan, and asked the planning officials to study the National Cycle Policy Framework document as he believed the majority of its recommendations would be applicable to the Development Plan.
Full report in The Northern Standard

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