Waterford representatives object to scale of 320-house development in city
Good quality and balanced housing development needed at Williamstown site – Sinn Féin
A number of Sinn Féin representatives in Waterford have criticised a large-scale development of 324 residential units at the Paddocks on the Williamstown Road in Waterford City.
Sitting Sinn Féin councillor Pat Fitzgerald and city-based candidate for the party, Michael Doyle, have called for "good quality and balanced housing development" on the site.
The pair have met a number of residents groups from the area recently and have expressed support for the position of various residents associations in objecting to the scale of what is being proposed.
Doyle said: “I want to stress from the outset, we in Sinn Féin are not opposed to the development of this site. In fact we welcome it. What we are opposed to is the sheer scale and density of what is being proposed to be constructed."
“We in Sinn Féin want good quality and affordable housing with all the necessary community amenities in Waterford in the midst of the current housing crisis. This proposal smacks of a return to Celtic Tiger; unsuitable, developer-led construction without any engagement with locals," he claimed.
“If this development is to go ahead based on the plans which have been submitted to An Bord Pleanála, it will include 324 residential units comprising 31 detached houses, 160 semi-detached houses, 37 terraced houses, 11 apartment blocks containing 96 apartments, a crèche with play area and 24 designated car parking spaces, 657 regular car parking spaces and 104 bicycle spaces," the election hopeful explained.
“This scale of development will have a hugely negative impact on residents living presently in the Paddocks and in surrounding estates. Residents associations have been meeting separately and in unison to express their outrage at this proposal and we in Sinn Féin fully support their objections. The residents want a balanced development and so do we."
Privacy issues, health and safety concerns, environmental impact, public transport issues, lack of amenities and car parking capacity have all been suggested as just some of the issues which this planning submission would affect.
“It is our belief that emergency legislation namely the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act 2016 is being exploited in this case to maximise profit for a receiver who is attempting to gain maximum return on this site with no consideration given to the societal impact," Doyle claimed.
“This legislation was introduced in 2016 to allow a fast-track planning procedure for residential developments of 100 units or more and large-scale student accommodation projects. It facilitated the allowance of planning proposals to go straight to An Bord Pleanála without normal oversight from Waterford Council."
“We in Sinn Féin opposed this legislation at the time due concerns that developers would be afforded too much power to steamroll public opinion and impose unbalanced developments on residents all around the country."
“We recognised the need for changes to be made to the planning process and suggested amendments to improve the legislation and introduce safeguards. These were all rejected and our concerns at that time have been vindicated with the situation residents in the Paddocks, Belfield, Booterstown, Farmleigh and other estates are now faced with."
“Four-storey apartment blocks in the middle of a settled residential estate and with no additional civic amenities proposed are totally unwarranted and must be opposed at all costs. European-style maisonettes with individual units would be much more suitable and akin to the housing which already exists in the paddocks," Michael commented.
“I have to say it is disingenuous in the extreme of sitting Fianna Fáil councillors who are riding around on high horses at present with residents in the area when it is their very party which sat on their hands at the time of the passing of the legislation and abstained from the final vote in both the Dáil and Seanad allowing Fine Gael and Independents to pass it despite opposition from Sinn Féin and other groups."
“This again all part of their political theatre act, confidence and supply. It was a cynical political act which has now been shown to have a deep impact on people’s daily lives," he criticised.
Waterford Metropolitan Council will meet this Wednesday to discuss the proposal but cannot intervene in the process due to the legislation.
“I encourage all local politicians to make a submission on behalf of the residents to cut the scale of this development. It is Williamstown today, it could be your area tomorrow," Doyle continued.
“I will conclude by reiterating, we are not opposed to the development of this site. We badly need residential housing, including social housing which will be part of this development."
“The plans as they are now, however, must be amended, the four-storey apartment blocks must be removed and alternatives found and intensive engagement with local residents must be commenced,” stated Doyle who is supported by Cllr Pat Fitzgerald.
The proposal can be viewed at www.williamstownroadplanning.ie.
Opinions and appeals can be submitted until March 12 every appeal must be made in writing and must be sent by post to: The Secretary, An Bord Pleanála, 64 Marlborough Street, Dublin 1.
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