Flynn slams colleagues’ decision not to rezone land
Westport councillors have given in to the ‘whim of developers’ and learned nothing from the collapse of the economy after they rejected the rezoning of residential land to agricultural land, according to a fellow councillor.
Westport county councillor Peter Flynn described as ‘madness’ and ‘stupidity’ the decision by his fellow councillors not to back the recommendations of Council planners and officials to rezone land currently zoned as residential/commercial in the environs of Westport town.
In the current Westport Development Plan, there is enough residential and mixed land zoned to accommodate a population 15,000. The town’s population currently stands at 5,543.
Cllr Flynn was the only county or town councillor to speak in favour of rezoning the land. He accused his fellow councillors of lacking the ‘backbone’ to go against the wishes of developers.
“We have continued with the same boom-to-bust cycle that has been going on for the last ten years, which is absolute stupidity. It is complete and utter madness and a bow to the whim of developers,” Cllr Flynn railed. “There were only about a dozen submissions made to the Council but 80 per cent of them came from speculators and developers. We are ignoring the needs of the population of the town on behalf of a handful of people, and this is not right.
“A lot of the builders are in NAMA or looking to go into NAMA, and the banks want the developers to hold onto the land so they can show it on their books, when in reality the land is over-valued. They paid inflated prices for lands and want a painless way out and the taxpayer to pay the cost. The taxpayer is sick and tired of the bailouts to banks and developers and have paid enough,” he said.
Cllr Flynn added that councillors are always talking about their powers being taken away from them but on this occasion they went against making the hard decisions. The Minister for the Environment will now decide whether to accept the Development Plan, but Cllr Flynn said there was ‘no way’ he would uphold what the councillors agreed to.
“The experiences of the last three or four years has shown that a lot of the problems were down to bad planning. Ultimately, if the amount of zoned land was restricted, we would not have the difficulty of banks and bailouts.”
The submissions received by Mayo County Council in relation to the Westport Environs were from Mayo National Roads Design Office; Austin O’Malley and Gus Gibbons; Kay O’Malley; Ger Scahill; John Heneghan; Liam O’Malley and Steve Cowman; Michael Geraghty; GAPP Partnership; Derek Lavelle; Mary Grady; Cllr Keith Martin; and the EPA.
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