Westport councillors reject variations to town development plan

Westport area and town councillors have rejected a new core strategy as part of Westport’s development plan, even though the town manager Joe Beirne advised that they take on board variations to the town’s development and environs plan.

Senior planner Ian Douglas told the area and town council meetings, which were held last Thursday, that councillors had three options in relation to the manager’s report — they could accept the report as it was, they could make alterations to it, or they could refuse it and go back to the original development plan. Mr Douglas said that if the plan was rejected they would have to give planning reasons for the refusal and then the Minister would be informed and a ministerial direction would be made.

As it stands, the original development plan which councillors made two years ago has more land zoned than required for the population trend and housing need.

Chair of the area Cllr Peter Flynn proposed that the council adopt the manager’s recommendations, however councillors Margaret Adams, John O’Malley, and Austin Francis O’Malley rejected the variations and wanted to revert back to the old development plan. “I will not change what I thought was right two years ago,” Cllr Adams said.

Cllr Flynn asked if a vote could be taken as “I’m certainly not going to support it.” The Fine Gael councillor said: “We are being completely irresponsible as houses are already lying empty.” Cllr Christy Hyland abstained from voting, while Cllr Adams, Cllr John O’Malley, and Cllr Austin Francis O’Malley voted for the rejection of the manager’s report.

Similarly, at a separate meeting, town councillors also rejected the manager’s report on core strategy. Cllr Adams, who is also a town councillor, proposed that the previously made development plan be put in place for the town. This was seconded by Cllr Ollie Gannon.

The town manager Joe Beirne told town councillors that they were ignoring advice, as the development plan was unsustainable for the population of Westport.

Area and town councillors also had to decide whether to make amendments to the area plan for Westport House and Demesne. Councillors agreed with certain recommendations from the manager and also made alterations to the plan. This plan will go out on public display again.

As for the controversial nursing home development in Colonel’s Wood, town councillors rejected this commercial element, and kept the zoning of the area as woodland.

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