‘Backwards approach to planning in Kilkenny must end’ – Cllr McGuinness
THE Western Environs development is a prime example of the “backwards approach” to major planning projects that must change if Kilkenny is to grow into a thriving, environmentally friendly city, Cllr Andrew McGuinness has said.
The development on the western outskirts of the city will see the construction of 500 new homes and three new schools in the area.
Cllr McGuinness said he understands the need for more developments to combat Kilkenny’s deepening housing crisis. But he said the failure to properly engage with local residents about their concerns – and the decision to plough ahead with the development without putting the necessary facilities in place first – beggars’ belief.
Cllr McGuinness said: “Nobody argues with the need for far greater housing in Kilkenny city – but we need a radical rethink when it comes to planning major projects such as the Western Environs development.
“Local Government representatives were tripping over themselves to present this as a ‘good news story’ ahead of the elections, but they would have served the people they represent far better if they put more thought and effort into listening to the concerns of the local residents.”
Local community groups have expressed serious concerns about the impact the development will have on the daily lives during the construction phase, which Minister of State John Paul Phelan has said will be completed within 18 months.
Cllr McGuinness said it is “highly unlikely” the building work will be completed in that timeframe. However, he is far more concerned about the failure to put the proper community infrastructure in place beforehand.
“It’s all very well talking about housing units, but what efforts were made to address the very real concerns of the people living in the area, both in relation to the impact it will have their everyday lives and the type of facilities and infrastructure that will be required to service the community as whole?” he asked.
“If we are to grow and develop Kilkenny into a modern, vibrant and breathing city we must adopt a far greater partnership approach with local communities. Far more join-up thinking is required when it comes to making vital decisions in relation to planning and development.”
The sitting councillor and local election candidate said he will be meeting with residents directly impacted by the Western Environs project over the coming weeks to listen to their concerns.
He added: “We are meeting with the local residents on an ongoing basis and will continue to work with them to ensure their voices are heard.”