Update Report from Council Meeting 5th July 2021
Hi All, please see below a brief update from todays Council Meeting. As normal, it was a full meeting so this is only a synopsis, the full meeting minutes will be available online in the coming week.
Land disposal is something that is approved (&, if necessary, voted on) by the Councillors. This can include a freehold on land, which includes a local authority house that was bought by the tenants & is sold on or for example where a back lane is taken into a garden. There were 6 such disposals. Most were straight forward, however one disposal did require additional information.
Disposal Notice no. 7 referred to the proposal of approx. 106 social housing to be built on Council owned land at Burgage near Avon Rí, Blessington. The disposal notice was technical in nature, it allowed for the land to be transferred to Dublin City Council who will be the lead on the scheme. There will however be a Part 8 (Public Consultations Process) when it comes to the actual development itself.
Chief Executive Report
This is a large report every month, 69 pages in total, so I will just cover some highlights here, but the full report is available online at www.wicklow.ie if you would like to have a look.
Vacant Homes Scheme – The CPO (Compulsory Purchase Orders) of vacant homes was very welcomed. Requests were made to see if a similar system could be used for vacant commercial units. The CE outlined the legislation available to deal with commercial units which is different to residents’ units.
Housing pipeline for new developments were discussed.
Request made for Delgany to Blacklion Road & cycleway to be included in the CE report going forward.
Request was made for information on the preferred route for the N11 upgrade proposed route which will be issued in a couple of weeks. In addition, clarity was sought on the competition of works on the parallel service road which is expected to be completed by the 17th of August 2021.
Bray Town Centre – clarity sought on why there is no activity on the site. The officials provided information, which had been provided previously at the Bray MD meeting. Machines which are no longer required have been removed from the site. 80% of the leases have been signed. The developers are currently addressing staff issues and working to gather all the necessary skills on site to complete work, they are also working on the site to adhere to Covid guidelines.
Toilets - €20,000 was provided to Municipals Districts to use on toilet facilities. In some MD’s where there were only 1 or 2 toilets, temporary toilets were brought in. In Bray MD, the funding is being used to revamp the existing toilets at the Sealife building.
Cliff Walk update on alternative route for walkers. Negotiations with landowners have not yet concluded. Rebuilding the section that has gone into the sea is not feasible so new route will be required.
Tree Policy – has been discussed at the Climate SPC and is now being finalised. This will then go to the Council for adoption possible in September. As part of this policy there is a call to report on any mature trees removed in the County, as well as trees planted.
Request for an updated report on the recruitment & retention of Fire Fighters. This will be issued.
Speed Limits – Wicklow County Council will shortly commence a review of the speed limits. The 30 kph speed limit in parts of Bray, raised by Cllr. Erika Doyle will be looked at as part of this.
Civic Memorial Policy
The Civic Memorial Policy was proposed and agreed by all members. This will allow for a procedure for the creation of a memorials throughout the County, providing guidance on the process and how these memorials will be approved and maintained.
Councillors covered under Wicklow County Council Dignity at Work Policy
New Dignity at Work Policy was developed by Wicklow County Council. Councillors will now fall under this policy also.
Notice of Motions
There were 14 motions submitted by various Councillors. These motions call for specific actions, sometimes at a national level and sometimes at a local level. Of the 14 motions, I have outlined 3 which provide an example of the subject matters raised, my personal thoughts and sometimes the complexity of the issues raised.
Cllr. Paul O’Brien, Cllr. Anne Ferris & Cllr. Gail Dunne brought forward the following motion - ‘That this Council writes to the Minister responsible for local government and planning with the following proposal: That as part of the conditions for planning applications for new housing estates, developers must install Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs). We are also calling on the Minister to instigate a review in order to install AEDs in all existing residential developments across Ireland. 70% of cardiac arrests happen at home, every minute that there is a delay in acting reduces the person’s chance of survival by 10%. Having the AED close at hand provides a vital link in the chain of survival and offers the person, adult, baby or child the best chance of surviving a cardiac arrest’.
MY PERSONAL THOUGHTS – This was an excellent motion which I was very happy to support. Although it was suggested by officials that this was not a matter for planning, Cllr. O’Brien made several very valid arguments which clearly laid out the reasons for AED’s to be put in as part of the creation of communities, not afterwards. Many Councillors spoke passionately about their experience in this area. The motion passed.
Cllr. Grace McManus & Cllr. Dermot O’Brien brought forward the following motion – ‘That this Council writes to the Minister for Housing outlining our objection to the proposed Shared Equity Loan Scheme contained within the Ministers Affordable Housing Legislation, due to the concerns raised by ERSI and others about the potential negative impacts of the scheme’.
MY PERSONAL THOUGHTS – I appreciate the reasons for this motion however I could not support it. I outlined to the members my own personal experience as I think it is always important to be honest when expressing your views. As a young mother I bought my first home under a previous scheme called the ‘Shared Ownership Scheme’. At the time it was criticised as not being good enough and full of issues. The reality was this scheme gave me the opportunity to put a roof over my head & that of my daughters when I could not get a mortgage but earned, very marginally, too much to be on the local authority housing list. I believe strongly that there needs to be a suite of housing options available to people and we should not limit these. Not all schemes will suit everyone, but we need as many schemes as possible to allow people to have a roof over their heads.
Cllr. Mags Crean, Cllr. Pier Leonard, Cllr. Joe Behan, Cllr. Tom Fortune, Cllr. Mary Kavanagh & Cllr. Rory O’Connor – ‘That Wicklow County Council establish an internal working group committed to advancing community wealth building beginning with an increased priority on the inclusion of green and social clauses in procurement criteria for services and goods.’
MY PERSONAL THOUGHTS – I would support this motion. There was a lot of discussion at the meeting, and it was agreed that Cllr. Mags Crean will circulate research that she has carried out on this issue and them a vote on the motion will be taken at the next full Council meeting.
Planning & Development (Amendment) (No. 3) Bill 2021
A discussion took place on the above proposed legislation which will allow for a delay in the creation of our new development plan. The County Development Plan outlines the strategic development for the County. It is a lengthy process but hugely important.
In addition, ‘Local Area Plans’, which exist for some areas, cannot be renewed until the new County Development Plan is in place. The local area plan for Bray, Kilmacanogue & Enniskerry was only recently done, however there are some concerns for example in Greystones and Wicklow/Rathnew where there is a lot of development, and the Local Area Plans need review.
Existing planning permissions would also be extended until 2023 under the legislation
Wicklow County Council has advised that there may be a need for an 8-month extension for Wicklow’s process, however we could need the full 12 months if we were hot with another Covid wave.
As the legislation is not yet in place, this matter will come back in September for a vote on any possible extension.