The first Local Area Plan for Ireland West Airport Knock will go before county councillors for adoption next Monday, July 9. The plan, if approved, will open the way for the development of a 25-acre business park beside the airport.
The Ireland West Airport Knock Area Plan 2012-2018 was discussed at last week’s meeting of the Swinford Electoral Area Committee, which considered the submissions on the draft plan. It must be approved before Strategic Development Zoning can be sought for the lands around the airport for commercial and industrial development. Submissions and observations have been submitted to the plan and councillors will have the option of adopting the plan in its current format or adopting it with amendments.
An Bord Pleanala refused planning permission in 2007 for proposed decentralisation of the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs to the airport because there was no Local Area Plan at that time. Charlestown-based councillor Gerry Murray told The Mayo News that the zoning of lands for development beside the airport will ensure there is no repeat of such incidents.
“This is a blue print for development around the airport. The main theme will be to develop a 25-acre business park and try to attract jobs and investment in the future for the airport and east Mayo. We had problems with the land not being zoned, but with zoning in place, if someone in the future looks to develop beside the airport and there are objections, An Bord Pleanala will not be able to uphold them,” he said.
The Sinn Féin councillor said that a business park located beside an airport would be attractive to some companies, but he acknowledged it would not guarantee investment. However, he said that the Shannon Development model showed that employment can be created around an airport, and he was hopeful that the airport can attract investment when the land is zoned.
“We are mindful that a Local Area Plan does not guarantee investment or jobs in a region, but [a business park] would make it easier for people wishing to locate by the airport. Hopefully we can try and replicate the success of the Shannon Development in attracting companies to the area,” he said.
Local Area Plans for Kiltimagh, Swinford and Charlestown were also discussed, and all four plans will now go before a full meeting of Mayo County Council next Monday.
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