Update from Wicklow County Council meeting 12th April 2021
Presentation on Draft County Development Plan 2021 – 2027
[Schedule for adoption of County Development Plan]
The purpose of the presentation was to ensure that all Councillors were clear on the process. The proposed draft plan has been given to members (all Councillors) on Tuesday 16th March. At Wicklow County Council meeting on the 10th of May, Councillors will need to discuss any proposed amendments they wish to submit to the draft plan. It will then go out for public consultation.
Some changes to the draft plan include.
· Chapter 5 – a new chapter on Towns & Villages – Placemaking & regeneration.
· Chapter 18 – Green Infrastructure – previously an appendix, now a chapter in its own right.
· Heritage, including built heritage were previously in one chapter. This has now been separated with Heritage going together with biodiversity, and built heritage separated out.
Councillors are required to submit proposed amendments by Friday 30th April. Amendments must be submitted by this date so that they can be circulated to all Councillors before the May meeting.
This is a large, complex, and extremely important plan which I am working my way through. Councillors are working together across parties to support each other and discuss the contents of the plan and its impact on our communities.
Some issues I have identified to date include –
· Concerns about the restrictions that are being applied by the National Planning Framework and how these restrictions, which determine how many new homes can be built in each area affect our communities. For example, Bray has an allocation of approx. 9,500 homes over the length of the plan. This would give new builds of 950 units every year. Tinahely has an allocation of 3 units per year. This volume of new homes (social, affordable & private) may be required in Bray, but we do not have the capacity to build 900 homes every year. These are the issues currently being discussed.
· Covid has changed the landscape, people are now working remotely and the basis on which the National Planning Framework is working may now be out of date.
· The other real challenge with the unit allocation is that it does not take into consideration planning permissions that have already been granted, which is a real issue in the Greystones area where a lot of planning permission has been given but many units not yet built.
· The impact on rural areas, who are being restricted in the number of units they can deliver. This may restrict investment in the area, for example will Irish Water invest in an area if there isn’t the development happening. In the last plan Arklow lost 3,000 units due to a lack of sewage treatment plant. It is now proposed for another 3,000 units to be cut again as part of this plan.
Chief Executive Monthly Management Report
This report is provided at every meeting by the Chief Executive and available on the Council’s website. It is a comprehensive report that is worth having a look at to get a feel for the huge amount of work and projects being undertaken in the County.
Some of the highlighted points / additional items discussed include -
€7.14 million funding provided for Bray Harbour. Applications being made again for Wicklow & Arklow. Bray Harbour Development Committee commended for the work they have done over many years to get us to the point of a successful completion.
€500 Bright Light, Blue Way project – a proposed Blueway linking Bray to south Arklow.
Funding of almost €2 million secured for Ireland / Wales Tourist Project
Grants available up to €4,000 for outdoor dinning, covers 75% of the ex-VAT cost.
Weather improving & outdoor dining grants available to the Council – Council will look at County and make an application for possible locations.
Update requested on Bray Fire Service report – the Chief Fire officer has prepared an internal report which has gone for review with the Department. The Council has received no reply to date. The CE will issue an update to all Bray MD members.
Arrears on Council rented homes has risen from €1.5 million to €2.7 million.
Waste Management & dog fouling issues – there was a call for a new approach to tackle significant litter issues & dog fouling across the County. Matter to be referred to Environment SPC to examine what action can be taken.
CLAR – funding is available for Cancer Care support, limited to a small portion of the County (West Wicklow & one area in Arklow) but a very welcome development for those who can apply.
Cliff Walk – closed due to safety concerns. It is looking like it will require a temporary diversion. Drainage works may also be required. Further update to come.
Fabric Upgrade – proposed to bring all stock up to B2 Energy rating over next few years. Council will commence surveying houses shortly.
Annual Service Delivery Plan
This is a reserved function which means that it is a function of the Councillors to adopt. The purpose is to set out objectives and performance standards for the coming year. It gives an overview of the budget landscape and takes into consideration other plans within the Council. This plan was adopted.
Draft Wicklow County Council Annual Report
This is a reserved function which means that it is a function of the Councillors to adopt by 30th June each year. This was for information only, to be adopted at meeting in June 2021.
LCDC Annual Report 2020
Presented for noting.
Wicklow Migrant Integration Strategy
[Image ‘Word Cloud’ of response from people on
what was the best thing about living in Wicklow.]
Presentation given on Wicklow Migrant Strategy. It showed that a large number of Wicklow residents identify as non-Irish, 14% of Wicklow’s population do not identify at White Irish and 14.9% were born abroad.
670 responses to survey were received. The draft strategy includes suggested lead agencies and suggested timeframes, these will need to be agreed with these leads.
Since the draft report was developed the Government has issued their white paper of the use of direct provision which will be taken into consideration as part of the plan. An Anti-rumour campaign has also been added to the plan, it involves combating hate speech online.
As part of the meeting, I along with other Councillors acknowledged the huge credit that should be given to Ian McGahon who brought into the strategy the introduction of the anti-rumour campaign and to Cllr. Erika Doyle who has been a great advocate in this area and has unfortunately had to deal with being targeted because of her courage in highlighting issues.
The identification & development of Decarbonisation Zones in County Wicklow
Wicklow is working to address its commitments to Climate Action. One of these actions is to identify our first decarbonisation zone (DZ) as part of working towards a low carbon County Wicklow. This action fits into the mitigation arear as outlined in the images above.
This is the very first step and the location will provide learning for a county wide roll out. There were several criteria to consider when choosing the areas, there was then further assessment criteria to choose the proposed location.
Arklow was chosen following this assessment and put forward to the full Council where it was approved. Arklow will now be working to reduce their carbon emission by 7% per annum.
Wicklow County Council’s Civic Memorial Policy Document
Purpose of policy to put in a place a policy for the naming of key infrastructure and community items.
Naming of key infrastructure – statue, bridges, buildings etc. Policy proposes setting up a Civic Memorial Committee to consider these requests, with key personnel including the Cathaoirleach of the relevant Municipal District.
Community Memorials – benches, trees etc. The Policy purposes that each municipal district continues to accept proposals and make decisions on this matter.
The policy was presented to the full Council for adoption however it was agreed that the policy should go back to each Municipal District for consideration first.
National Broadband Ireland (N.B.I) – Status & update on County Wicklow
Peter Hendrick - CEO National Broadband Ireland, TJ Malone CE National Broadband Ireland Deployment & Fergal Mulligan - Department provided update on plan to date.
[Orange part of map covers 15,350 premises in Co. Wicklow without high-speed broadband (blue areas in map are areas where there is already broadband)]
[Deployment Areas cover about 20 km, as such the Blessington area for example covers areas outside of Blessington. The table above shows the current of the deployment areas.]
[Status of school connections]
Sign up to www.nbi.ie to keep up to date with developments.
Mid East Region Homeless Action Plan 2021 – 2023
Plan was provided for review having been reviewed at the Housing SPC previously. As a member of the Housing SPC all involved should be commended for their work in this area. If you would like a copy of this plan, please let me know.