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Impasse over Nenagh housing plan

Friday, 28th August, 2020 9:15am
Impasse over Nenagh housing plan

Residents protesting at the Civic Offices against the council's plan to add 12 more houses to Nenagh's Cormack Drive estate. Photograph: Bridget Delaney

Impasse over Nenagh housing plan

Residents protesting at the Civic Offices against the council's plan to add 12 more houses to Nenagh's Cormack Drive estate. Photograph: Bridget Delaney


Residents opposed to the building of 12 council houses in Nenagh's Cormack Drive estate say they are prepared to seek an injunction if Tipperary Co Council moves ahead with the plan.

A delegation of residents met with officials of the council's Housing section at the Civic Offices last Monday. Several local representatives, including three of Tipperary's five TDs and most of the Nenagh Municipal District councillors, also attended meeting.

A group of residents staged a protest outside while the meeting of more than two hours' duration took place.

Among the public representatives in attendance was Fianna Fáil TD Jackie Cahill, who hoped that a compromise solution could be reached. But representatives of the Cormack Drive and St Conlon's Road residents emerged from the meeting defiant in their belief that no new houses should be built in the estate. 

"If they insist on building, we are going to protest again and we will seek a High Court injunction to get it reviewed," said Michael Ryan of Cormack Drive. "It's a road we are willing to travel because we don't think we've been given a fair hearing up to now. We're not willing to accept any more houses in there."

Mr Ryan said he was positively surprised by the turnout of TDs and councillors at the meeting and he welcomed their contributions. He said the residents are standing by their conviction that a longstanding agreement determines that no more houses are to be built in Cormack Drive. He believed the council may have "lost" reference to this agreement with all the restructuring of local authorities in the 30 years since it was made, but that the agreement is nevertheless binding.  

"They say they can't find it but that doesn't mean there wasn't an agreement in place," Mr Ryan said. "To say it doesn't exist is a bit disingenuous."

He said residents would also be raising several questions over what Mr Ryan termed a "flawed Part VIII process" in planning the houses, including the duration of the process, omission of documents from submissions, and contact with those who made submissions.

The Cormack Drive residents spokesman said people in his estate did not object to the loss of a playing field beside the Joe Daly Road several years ago, where housing and the Enable Ireland centre have since been built. But he said the residents are determined not to lose any more green space in the area and would again be asking the council to find another location to build new houses for the hundreds of people in need in Nenagh.

"We don't want to deprive anyone of a house or a job but there are other sites in Nenagh with no strings attached," Mr Ryan said of the situation. "There are sites in Nenagh where you could comfortably build 40 or 50 houses. I have to ask, will building 12 houses here in Cormack Drive even scratch the surface?"

St Conlon's Road representative Andrew Fahy was also happy with the attendance of local representatives and what they said at the Monday meeting. He said most made expressions of support towards the residents. 

"I was very impressed with what each of them had to say. Some of them made very good points and showed a great understanding of the situation," Mr Fahy said.

"I am also delighted that the council facilitated the meeting and gave us the opportunity to get our points across. But we made it clear that we don't want these houses, so it is going to be a stalemate now."

Mr Fahy said "new evidence of the agreement has come to light" and those opposed to the Cormack Drive plan would be appealing to the policy makers of today to honour the sentiments of the past. He said lessons must be learned from social housing problems in other parts of the country and adding further houses to Cormack Drive is not the solution.

Deputy Cahill said the residents at the meeting with the council were "emphatic" in their view about the agreement, and he pointed out that three former chairmen of the old Nenagh Urban District Council have publicly endorsed that view.

"Very few councillors opposed this plan when it was put before them; my understanding is only four of the 40 opposed it," Deputy Cahill said. "If information has come to light since, which wasn't available at the time the decision was made, that creates a difficulty."

The Fianna Fáil TD said there appeared to have been a lack of communication between the parties up to this point but he hoped the standoff could be resolved.

"I would appeal for common sense to prevail," Deputy Cahill said. "Going to court will only cost fortune and cause endless hassle. I think they should sit down again in the next few days and try to work out a compromise."

He also spoke of the possibility of finding an alternative site to build houses for the many people in need of social housing in Nenagh.

"There is council land available and it's not a hundred miles away - why can't a small section of that be used? That's the question that has been asked again and again and again."

The council declined to comment on the situation at the present time.

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