Developer hits out over new Monksland Plan

‘It would desperately restrict the area’

The continued development of Monksland would be in jeopardy if Roscommon County Council’s draft area plan is sanctioned in the New Year, a prominent local developer has said. Last month, the council released the draft version of the Monksland/Bellanamullia Local Area Plan (LAP) 2016-2022. It would see the amount of land zoned for residential development slashed by 85 per cent, from 157 hectares (388 acres) to just 23.48 hectares (58 acres).

  That’s despite the vast growth of the area, both commercially and residentially, in recent years. The population of the area rose by 42.8 per cent between 2006-11, from 3,122 persons to 4,459 Athlone-based developer Donie Kenny has said that the plan, if implemented, would “desperately restrict” Monksland and that the dezoning of vast swathes of residential land was a “backward step”.

  “It is totally wrong,” he said. “The main reason why the population of Monksland expanded was because new houses were built in that area.

  “It lent itself to people buying the houses. If there is no houses for people to move into, where is the population going to expand to?

  “Now the housing market in that area is at maximum. If you ring an auctioneer and asked for rental in Monksland, you won’t get any.”

  When drafting local area plans nationwide recently, it has been Government policy to significantly reduce the amount of land zoned for building houses.

  Yet Mr Kenny said that Monksland should be treated differently.

  “What is wrong with the plan full-stop is they are treating Monksland as a disadvantaged area,” he said.

  “But Monksland, being in the middle of the country, the electricity is there to facilitate any industry. It has a new water treatment plan. It is serviced by the motorway. It should be attracting massive corporate entities.

  “They have drafted a plan on the back of a recession, and on the back of national guidelines, which are reasonable for established towns.

  “Monksland is different – it’s a new town.

  “There is a new population there, and by restricting the zoning so much, they are just going to restrict growth of the whole area.”

  The council said, however, that they only anticipated a modest increase in the area’s population (538 persons) between 2014-20, and that the current amount of land zoned residential would cater for a doubling of its population.

  Mr Kenny said: “I think their figures are wrong.”

  He said that the council had calculated their figure on the anticipated rise for the whole county, and then dispersed it around to each area.

  “But the likes of Boyle or Roscommon town might actually go down, and Monksland could triple,” said Mr Kenny. “On the basis of where Monksland is, if the housing was there, the population would expand. They haven’t factored in a lot of things.”

  Athlone Municipal District councillors will vote on the plan in the New Year, but the Department of Environment will have the final say.