Wednesday 24 January 2018

Developer wants to build 250 houses near town with 1,100 empty homes

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

A BUILDING company is seeking permission to construct more than 250 new houses in a county with one of the highest number of ghost estates in the country.

The move by Laragan Land and Property Ltd – a company with Roscommon-based businessmen Alan and Joseph Hanley as its directors – has sparked opposition in Longford town due to the large numbers of empty houses there already.

There are more than 100 empty houses within an 800-metre radius of the proposed development at Abbeycartron and Aghedegnan, on the outskirts of Longford town.

But if the developers get planning permission, it will increase the value of their site. And their best chance to get it is before 2015 – when the residential zoning on the site expires.

Longford town councillors have been told this week that they have no power to vote down the planning application from Laragan Land and Property Ltd because the proposed 47-acre greenfield site on the outskirts of the town has been zoned for housing in the 2009 to 2015 development plan.

However, Independent councillor Mae Sexton said it made no sense to build 251 new houses in Longford .

"There is a glut of housing in Longford town. I am shouting stop and I have the support of all the council members," she said.

There are 95 unfinished housing estates in Longford as a whole – including five within a short distance of the town centre. And the most recent Census recorded more than 1,100 empty apartments and houses in the town.

Longford town council planners have the power to grant planning permission by September 25, if it is in keeping with all planning requirements. If they give the go ahead, it will then be open to the residents to appeal the decision to An Bord Pleanala.

Alan Hanley was the director of a separate company – Laragan Developments – which went into liquidation in 2009 with judgments against it.

There had been an examinership process to try to save the company. But the High Court was told only 1pc would be returned to those who paid deposits of between €15,000 and €20,000 for properties at Carrickmines Green and Milner's Square, both in Dublin.

OPPOSITION

The decision of Laragan Land and Property Ltd to apply for planning permission for 251 new homes in Longford has sparked strong local opposition.

Spokesman for the local residents, Fergus Reynolds, said in his submission that Longford already had the second highest number of ghost estates in the country, per head of population.

"With this proposed development of 251 houses, where are the people coming from to occupy them?" he asked.

Mr Reynolds also submitted a petition to the council in opposition to the development containing the signatures of 87 householders – while another local residents' association weighed in with its own objection.

Longford town council has promised to take all the submissions into consideration before its decision.

In a statement, Laragan Land and Property Ltd said it had prepared a masterplan for the site it owned in line with the requirements for "proper, sustainable planning into the future".

It said it would only be developing the site "pursuant to housing needs over the next 10 to 15 years". It also said that the planning permission application was designed to allow for phased development of the houses.

Irish Independent

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