Local councillors have unanimously endorsed a new housing development which would see 421 new units built on Kilnahue and Gorey Hill, Carnew Road and Kilnahue Lane.
Following a presentation at the Gorey Kilmuckridge Municipal District, the nine councillors present (Councillor Fionntán Ó Súilleabháin was absent) voted in favour of a project which, having previously been rejected by An Bord Pleanana (ABP) in 2017, will now be submitted to the national independent planning body for further review.
Developed by Gerard Gannon Properties the proposed site will consist of a mixed-use development comprising of 421 residential units (133 houses, 228 apartments, and 60 duplexes); with one childcare facility, two retail units and two community rooms. And with the county in the midst of one of the worst housing crises in living memory, the development was welcomed by councillors who regularly field queries from those on lengthy housing lists. However, their endorsement came with some provisos.
“I would support it, the road needs to be widened there and I would be concerned about the traffic but I am supportive of it, we need houses, there’s so many families in need of somewhere to live in Gorey, we have to be supportive of it,” said Councillor Donal Kenny.
“It’s a great step forward for the town, if even half of the people buying units are renting in the area it will free up further properties across the district. People have been waiting a long time for this, it’s our duty to support it. This is good news, the biggest news on housing we’ve had in Gorey for a long time and we need to embrace it,” agreed Cllr Diarmuid Devereux.
A decision on whether the 37-acre site can proceed to development stage is expected from ABP with six months but with no dissenting voices in the chamber a motion to approve the development was passed by Wexford County Council.
Responding to the council’s decision to approve the proposed development, the residents of Kilnahue Lane, who have vocally opposed the project since it was first mooted in the mid-2000s, released a statement which began by referencing the strategic housing development (SHD) system which was discontinued earlier this year – it enabled developers to submit applications for planning permission directly to An Bord Pleanála for certain housing developments
"The SHD system did not work. The government has scrapped it as it resulted in a significant increase in court challenges, and so slowed, and often stopped houses being built. And that’s an absolute tragedy for those who need houses. When people aren’t given a say on the likes of the Gannon SHD at Kilnahue, or their opinions even listened to, that is also a tragedy.
"There has been a rush by developers to get their plans in before the April 2022 deadline. The disconnect between the An Bord Pleanala inspectors and the people on the ground who know what an area is like to live in meant builders were being given carte blanche. This is why the scheme has been scrapped. It sounds pretty unfair that we have to try and make a stand against a system that the government knows does not work.
“All of the local councillors, bar one, have not even considered any of the very credible reasons the almost 50 residents surrounding the proposed development have given in their observations to An Bord Pleanala. That is such a shame as people’s safety has been our number one concern, and I hope the councillors realise the consequences of their endorsement for Gerard Gannon’s proposal. I wonder have they even reviewed the mountain of plans? Probably not as it doesn't affect them directly. I live here and I am affected directly so I have reviewed them. If the councillors had reviewed the plans they might understand why the people affected are so flabbergasted at Gannon's attempt to put a round peg in a square hole.”