Minister controversially overturns housing land zonings

Minister Damien English

A recent decision by elected representatives in Tuam to zone four parcels of land in the town for housing has been controversially overturned by a Government Minister.

Livid Tuam area councillors are expected to call an emergency meeting of the Municipal Council next week.

Housing Minister Damien English, in correspondence with Galway County Council, said that the zonings are located in ‘a scattered and disorderly manner’ and would not be in the interests of the long-term development.

The lands are located at Milltown Road, the Gardenfield area while two are situated in the Ballymote area of the town.

Fianna Fail’s Cllr Donagh Killilea said that it was obvious that the Minister knew very little about the housing requirements in the town and efforts would be made to reverse this decision.

And what makes it even more frustrating for the local councillors is that two of these plots of land were previously granted planning permission for housing that has since expired.

The Minister will also be invited to the emergency meeting of Tuam Municipal Council and will be afforded the opportunity to view at first hand the lands in question.

“It is obvious that the Department of Housing do not want to see towns like Tuam expand at a time when there is an urgent need for more dwellings to be provided,” Cllr Killilea told The Connacht Tribune.

The decision to zone these parcels of land was taken at a recent meeting of Galway Council Council when members were discussing the Tuam Local Area Plan.

In correspondence with Galway County Council, the Minister states that these particular zonings would effectively extend the town boundary and his Department had serious concerns about this. He added that the guidelines on Sustainable Residential Development in Urban Areas states that “new development should contribute to compact towns and villages”.

It goes on to say that the decision taken by councillors conflicts with the preferred development strategy option to “rationalise land use zonings in Tuam”.

Cllr Killilea said that local area councillors are responsible individuals who only make decisions in the best interest of the town.

“The fact that there was previously planning permission on at least two of these sites, which was granted by Galway County Council, meant that the local authority saw fit to allow housing development take place at these locations.

“But now the Minister is effectively saying that they were wrong in doing so at the time. One would get the impression that the Department do not want Tuam to expand and develop like it should do,” he added.