AFTER some two years of planning, revising and bitter disputes over technical topics like housing densities and the growth of our towns and villages, applause rang out at Wexford County Council headquarters as Cathaoirleach of Wexford County Council Barbara Anne Murphy officially signed off on the local authority’s County Development Plan 2022 – 2028.
There were a few more issues to be discussed, but by and large, the lion’s share of the work was completed ahead of the special meeting of the council.
"This is our plan,” Cllr Murphy said. “Our planners have been working on this for the past two years and I think as members we’ve made our own mark on this plan. It’s the blueprint for how we will develop our county over the next six years. This is stage 13; there’s been an extensive public consultation and there’s been more public engagement with this plan than any other, despite the challenges of a pandemic. It aims to maximise the opportunity for economic growth with a particular consideration on homes for all our people.”
Chief Executive of Wexford County Council Tom Enright said that it had been a “prolonged and challenging process” at “an unprecedented time of policy change in Ireland” to get the plan to this point.
"In many ways, it comes at an opportune time,” he said. “We have never been more aware of the challenges we face such as climate change, the biodiversity crisis and housing issues. Our advanced strategy aims to provide choice for people in terms of the type of housing and tenure etc they want.”
Mr Enright also commended all of the member for their input, noting that they had worked through over 5,000 pages of dense technical documents up to this point.
Concluding, he said of the plan: “It’s impossible to please everybody, but we try to get the balance right and I think that’s what we’ve done here. The submissions we’ve received make it a plan of and for the people and we aim to make Wexford a model county to work, live, visit and grow.”
Special words of praise were reserved for Diarmuid Houston and Deirdre Kearns from the planning section who had put countless hours into the finer elements of the plan.
Having considered the final submissions, there was an air of optimism, mixed with relief as Cllr Murphy signed the documents on behalf of the members. Thanking everybody who contributed, she concluded that she hoped now everybody could “pull together and ensure this county grows and thrives going forward”.