1 - Economic Development and Planning Policy

Minutes of Strategic Policy Committee 1 (Economic Development and Planning Policy) of Sligo County Council held at 3.30pm on Thursday, 8th December 2005 in the Council Chamber, Riverside, Sligo.


MEMBERS PRESENT:

  • Cllr. Patsy Barry
  • Cllr. Seamus Kilgannon
  • Cllr. Sean MacManus
  • Cllr. Jude Devins
  • N O’Driscoll, Ballisodare Community Council
  • Phil Tuohy, Aclare Development Association

OFFICIALS  PRESENT:

  • P. Forkan, Director of Services
  • D. Clarke, Director of Services
  • B. Carolan, Senior Planner
  • F. Moylan, Senior Executive Planner
  • F Meagher, Senior Executive Planner
  • J McNamara, Administrative Officer
  • D. Finnegan, Clerical Officer
  • M Hegarty, Administrative Officer
  • P. Flanagan, Senior Executive Engineer

APOLOGIES:

  • Cllr. Deirdre Healy McGowan
  • Mr. Gerry Healy
  • Cllr. Tony McLoughlin

CHAIRPERSON:

  • Cllr. P. Barry presided

CONFIRMATION OF MINUTES:

To confirm the minutes of the SPC 1 meeting held on the 29th September 2005 in the Council Chamber, Riverside, Sligo.
Proposed: Cllr. Seamus Kilgannon

Seconded: Cllr. Jude Devins AND AGREED

That the minutes of the Strategic Policy Committee No. 1 meeting held on the 29th September 2005 be confirmed.

1.  MATTERS ARISING FROM MINUTES

No matters were raised under this heading.

2. PRESENTATION BY E-NET

John Lawlor of E-Net gave a presentation on “The Importance of Telecommunications in Economic Development and the Promotion of the Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs) project in Sligo”.  He outlined that E-Net manage and operate the MANs on behalf of the Irish Government and provide fibre based services to licensed operators on a wholesale basis.  He informed the members that there are 121 centres nationwide with an extensive network of ducting and fibre optic cables which can carry telecoms, internet, television, telematics and CCTV.  He stated that broadband enables open access, global connectivity, and unlimited capacity and is economically advantageous.  The members welcomed Mr. Lawlor and thanked him for his informative address.  Cllr. S. McManus asked about the provision of a broadband service to smaller towns e.g. Tobercurry & Ballymote as he said that these areas should not be overlooked in any future plans.  In reply, Ms. D. Clarke said that Tobercurry and Enniscrone were connected via wireless based broadband and that villages such as Strandhill and Rosses Point were now being facilitated with broadband under the County and Group Broadband Scheme.  She added that many other towns would receive broadband under this Dept of Communication, Marine and Natural Resources 100% funded scheme. She also said that she was aware that the 2nd phase of MANs was now looking at providing a service to areas with populations of 5,000 and may consider smaller population areas in the future.  It was agreed that Mr. Paddy Birch, Regional Co-ordinator of the County and Group Broadband Scheme would give a presentation to the members on the future roll out of the Scheme at a future SPC meeting.

It was further agreed that this item should be placed on the March Agenda for further discussion.

3.  NATIONAL COUNTRYSIDE RECREATIONAL STRATEGY

M. Hegarty gave a presentation to members on the development of a National Countryside Recreational Strategy and said that the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs established Comhairle na Tuaithe in 2004 to address three priority issues: access to the countryside, the development of a Countryside Code and the development of a National Countryside Recreation Strategy.  She added that submissions were invited from interested parties including local authorities and she summarised the key points of the Council’s submission including: developing rules and regulations governing access, ring fencing funding for local authorities and investing in a public signage and improved road access needed in the countryside.  Cllr. Devins thanked M. Hegarty for the presentation and proposed that the Council’s submission should recommend that the current membership of Comhairle na Tuaithe be reviewed to include local authorities’ representation.  Cllr. S. Kilgannon thanked M. Hegarty for her work in preparing the submission and presentation and expressed his support for this strategy as it promoted tourism in an effective way.  He proposed that the submission be approved and forwarded to the Department; this proposal was agreed and seconded by Cllr. S. McManus.

4.  PLANNING REVIEW AND 2006 PROGRAMME IN DEVELOPMENT CONTROL

Mr. Frank Moylan gave the members a brief synopsis of the achievements in the Development Control Unit in 2005 and the outlook for 2006.
He indicated that the Unit had responded to a significant workload in 2005 associated with the increase in planning applications which were submitted to avail of Rural Renewal Tax Incentives.  The establishment of a screening process for new applications at the counter had greatly reduced the invalidation rate (down to approx 2% in 2005)
Applicants and agents were accommodated with pre planning discussion with Planners within a time frame of two weeks from initial request date. Pre planning meetings were now available in the Tobercurry One Stop Shop on Tuesday mornings.

He indicated that two seminars were held with agents to improve awareness of relevant planning legislation and also to improve the quality of applications submitted. He added that the establishment of a Panel of Approved Consultants to carry out Site Suitability Assessment for “On Site Wastewater Treatment Systems” would result in a reduction in refusals and further information requests.  Mr. Forkan stated that every application for one off houses should have a proper site assessment submitted.  He indicated that training was an issue but was assured by FAS that Sligo applicants would get priority on the proposed course to be held in Sligo in May 2006.

Mr. Moylan concluded that the Planning Authority would in 2006 strive to improve the quality of applications submitted through screening at Planning counter, pre-planning discussions, seminars with agents, publication of guidance documents (e.g. on the preparation of a planning application for a dwelling house in a rural area) and a Design Guide for housing in County Sligo.

Mr. P. Forkan informed the members that Sligo County Council participated in an E-Planning pilot study to assess the issues involved in converting the planning application process from the current manual system to a fully integrated electronic system. The report on the project was now with the Department of the Environment Heritage & Local Government for their attention.

5.  DEVELOPMENT PLANS UPDATE

Ms. Meagher outlined the achievements of the Development Planning Unit in 2005 and the challenges for 2006.

She indicated that the Sligo County Development Plan 2005 - 2011 was adopted by the elected members on the 18th April 2005 and came into force on the 16th May 2005. She stated that the Plan has three separate parts:

  1. The main document, including an overall strategy, detailed development objectives, development control standards/guidance and Mini-Plans for Ballysadare, Collooney and Grange.
  2. The Record of Protected Structures (RPS);
  3. The joint Housing Strategy for Sligo Borough Council and Sligo County Council.

Ms. Meagher informed the meeting that with the assistance of the National Building Agency (NBA), the Ballymote Draft Local Area Plan had reached the final stage of the statutory process and was adopted by the Members at their December Meeting.

With regard to the Tobercurry Local Area Plan, surveys and analysis were at an advanced stage, a pre-draft public consultation meeting was held and written submissions were invited.  She also confirmed that the pre-draft public consultation process would be completed before Christmas in respect of mini-plans for Carney, Coolaney and Dromore West.
         
She indicated that a mid-term review of the Sligo and Environs Development Plan 2004 - 2010 would be undertaken, together with a review of the Records of Protected Structures (Borough and County) following the publication of the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage for Sligo. The Unit would also progress and complete the statutory process to bring the Local Area Plan for Tobercurry and the mini-plans for Carney, Coolaney, and Dromore West to the adoption stage and to incorporate the latter into the County Development Plan by means of the statutory ‘variation’ procedure.

Ms. Meagher stated that, during 2006, it is proposed to commence preparation of master plans for Sligo Dockland Regeneration, Lisnalurg, in addition to a further group of mini-plans and a Sligo Design Guide.

Councillor Devins asked if there were any proposals for a mini-plan for Rosses Point. He expressed concern at the lack of amenities and the situation regarding the long-term feasibility of the School. He indicated there was no great scale of development in Rosses Point and they were not capitalizing on finances. In reply both Ms Meagher and Mr Carolan indicated that they were conscious of the need to tailor a twin-plan for Rosses Point and Ballincar. It was suggested that this issue should be further discussed by the SPC.

Cllr. Kilgannon asked why the land in the ownership of Sligo County Council in Lisnalurg wasn’t being developed for housing and suggested that we should also look at the provision of shopping there.

Cllr. McManus queried the position regarding the preparation of a mini-plan for Cliffoney. Mr Carolan stated numerous settlements are listed for plans and that a twin-plan for Mullaghmore/Cliffoney could be considered. He indicated, however, that plans are also needed for areas such as Easkey, Banada/Tourlestrane/Aclare, and Teesan/Drumcliffe. He advised the meeting that, in prioritising settlements for attention, the Development Planning Unit is endeavouring to respond to development pressure and to achieve balance across the Electoral Areas.

Cllr. Barry observed that Mullaghmore/Cliffoney is closed to development and he advocated mini-plans for Rosses Point/Ballincar and other places where adequate wastewater treatment facilities are available.

Mr. Carolan advised the meeting that it is proposed to commence preparation of a Design Guide for Housing in Sligo. This would give an indication as to what is achievable in terms of design and how important it is.

6.  EUROPEAN FIELD TRIP

Mr Carolan proposed a possible fact-finding field-trip to a European City which was port-related and dockland represented.  Following discussion it was agreed that this would be a beneficial exercise, particularly in light of the proposals for the regeneration of the Sligo Docklands, and Hamburg was the favoured venue for the trip.

7.   ANY OTHER BUSINESS

Cllr. Kilgannon requested that he be afforded the opportunity to discuss the issue of Slurry Development / Spreading at a future date.


No date for the next meeting was fixed.



Meeting Date 08/12/2005