Concerns over social housing consultation
Elected members from Arklow have accused Wicklow County Council of failing to consult with residents over plans for 47 housing units at Delany Park, Meadowvale, Arklow.
A Part 8 came before the Councillors to pass in order for the development to commence.
While all Arklow councillors welcomed the addition of social housing, they had concerns over what they perceived as a lack of consultation, especially regarding a potential access route.
Cllr Miriam Murphy was delighted with the design which she described as 'very inclusive and accessible' but felt that the legitimate concerns of residents from the area hadn't been listened to. She explained that Arklow Municipal District had facilitated a meeting with residents on November 24 where a request for some documentation was made by the residents, including a traffic assessment report. In December Cllr Murphy asked for a report at another meeting, which she has yet to receive.
'I asked for a meeting between Housing officials from Wicklow County Council and some of the residents. A January 10 date was set where I felt some issues could be cleared up. The meeting had started when I was informed that no housing official would be present. I felt embarrassed as I didn't know they wouldn't be attending,' said Cllr Murphy.
Cllr Pat Fitzgerald said the last social housing to be built in Arklow was back in 2007.
'We now have 833 people in Arklow on the waiting list, some for over 14 years. This is an exciting time for people on the list. Things started with an error in 2003 when land was acquired instead of housing. All 64 houses should have been integrated into the estate.'
Residents of Meadaowvale Drive had issues over access through their estate. Cllr Fitzgerald proposed that only one exit/entrance would be constructed and it would be located on the east side. The entrance at Meadowvale should be pedestrian only.
His proposal was seconded by Cllr Tommy Annesley.
As Cathaoirleach of Arklow Municipal District, Cllr Annesley said he had facilitated two meetings with residents of Meadowvale.
'On advice from the engineers we were told that we couldn't get another road into the estate. There was a lack of communication and that was brought to my attention and I tried to deal with it. It was a difficult one.'
Cllr Joe Behan said he had been contacted by residents of Meadowvale as well.
'They are grateful to the six members from Arklow but they aren't happy with the consultation they got from the council officials. 12 years after permission had been granted, Wicklow County Council commenced the first phase. Anyone else would only get five years. Different rules seem to apply to the council when compared to other citizens.'
Cllr Pat Kennedy said: 'There is a good mix of housing and the people of Arklow badly need this. It can be seen as a stepping stone because we very much need more housing.'
Director of Services, Joe Lane, acknowledged that there had been some 'confusion' over the consultation process mainly brought about because Phase 1 had already started while Phase 2 and 3 were still going through the Part 8 process. All 25 elected members present voted in favour of the Part 8 to include Cllr Fitzgerald's amendment.