While Willie O’Dea wiped the hubris off the sword he fell on and the Bishops did something similar after their trip to Rome, here in Westport we wonder at how the wheels of local government spin. Westport Town Council published a Material Contravention Notice of the Westport Town Development Plan in the Irish Independent on February 2. It was published in the national newspaper because notices referring to Material Contraventions must be published in a daily newspaper, according to a council spokesperson. The notice states:
“Ref. No in register 09/21. Notice is hereby given in accordance with Section 34(6) of the Planning and Development Act, 2000 that Westport Town Council intends to consider deciding to grant permission for the demolition and removal of existing buildings, tanks and obsolete ancillary services, for the construction of a new single storey 1,644sq m licensed discount foodstore, (1,274sq m net retail area) with ancillary accommodation including stores, offices, staff accommodation, plant room, dock leveller, free standing compactor, associated car parking, landscaping, ESB sub-station, entrances, site development works, services and signage at existing Northern Feather Factory, The Demesne, Westport.
The development would contravene materially an objective of the Development Plan 2003: The site is in an area zoned B Industrial in the Westport Development Plan 2003 and the proposed development contravenes materially the industrial land use zoning objective in Section 2:1 of the Westport Development Plan, 2003 as shown in the land use zoning matrix: Table 1.
Particulars of the development may be inspected at the offices of Westport Town Council, Westport Civic Offices, Altamont Street, Westport, Co Mayo during normal office hours. Any submission or observation as regards the making of the decision to grant permission received not later than 5.00 p.m. on March 1, 2010 will be duly considered by the Planning Authority. Submissions should be made in writing to Ann Moore, Town Clerk, Westport Civic Offices, Altamont Street, Westport, Co. Mayo. Signed: Ann Moore, Town Clerk, Date: 2 February 2, 2010.
Note: Under the Westport Town and Environs Development Plan 2010 – 2016 which comes into effect on February 24, 2010 the proposed development will not require a material contravention of the new Development Plan.”
Councillors have a vote if a Material Contravention is required. Two-thirds of the councillors (six) must vote in favour to have it passed. It is irrelevant because the planning decision date is later than the date the new plan comes into effect. The Material Contravention will not be required and the council executive will make the decision, not councillors.
The issue was discussed at the recent council meeting. Cllr Margaret Adams referred to the traffic reports submitted under ‘Further Information.’ Cllr Martin Keane asked that residents concerns be respected. Cllr Christy Hyland referred to traffic worries as did Cllr Ollie Gannon who said the New Road area cannot cope with such a development. Cllr Tereasa Maguire asked for dialogue with residents, also echoed by Cllr Brendan Mulroy who again criticised the traffic congestion in the area. Cllr Michael McLoughlin agreed and said he could not recall discussing this during the Development Plan meetings. “How did this happen?” he asked. An interesting question! What was to be the councillors’ decision is not any longer. Martin Keating (Acting Town Manager in the absence of Peter Hynes) stated that he understood that “management is of the view that it should be granted.”
Some local residents are opposing the proposal. Many people claim the Castlebar Road/Lodge Road area is a more suitable supermarket location and traffic could be more easily managed.
Traffic is the main concern of people in the Demesne area. The Newport Road is already congested. It already backs up the Minister’s Hill regularly. Add supermarket traffic to this. The CBS site is the location of the amalgamated Scoil Pádraig. Add the associated traffic. Gaelscoil na Cruaiche will be located on the Golf Links Road, off the Newport Road. Add on the Gaelscoil traffic.
A report from Davy last week stated that we squandered the boom. Our infrastructure is worse than countries smaller than Ireland. People are concerned that, in a planned town, we are piling exhaust pipe on exhaust pipe. Where are the outer link roads?
Already the Demesne area plays host to Carrowbeg College, Northern Feather and its associated shops/restaurant, Hotel Westport, the Order of Malta Hall, a Health Centre, Westport Town Library, the Mac Bride Nursing Home, not to mention the residents at the Demesne Gate, the Dark Walk, the 40 homes in St Mary’s Crescent, the homes and apartment blocks on the New Road and St Mary’s Villas. A new supermarket will always be welcome in Westport. It will bring new jobs, greater choice and offer competition to other supermarkets. The supermarket development is not the issue of concern, the traffic is.