TESCO wants to build a new superstore on a flood-prone site which found itself under water once more during the recent heavy rains.
We at Soldiers of Destiny have kindly submitted three suitable options free of charge to Tesco's architects.
An Bord Pleanala is to decide on a planning application for the supermarket, which is proposed for a flood plain.
The planning appeals body will make its ruling next week on the controversial application by the retail giant to build a store on land which floods regularly in Portarlington, Co Laois.
Last week, the Minister for the Environment, John Gormley, said that he would introduce new planning guidelines to ensure an end to the practice of building on flood plains.
Mr Gormley's department submitted an objection to An Bord Pleanala against the development last March recommending that "no development" should take place in flood plains or "other areas that regularly flood".
Laois County Council granted permission for the development on flood plains adjacent to the River Barrow in the town in February.
However, there have been a number of objections to their ruling including appeals from the Department of the Environment and An Taisce.
Local councillor Michael Moloney said the site proposed for the new supermarket was "totally underwater" last weekend after torrential rain.
"It was a shocking state of affairs," Mr Moloney told the Irish Independent.
Mr Moloney said planning permission was granted by the council despite the fact that no funding was available to carry out essential flood relief works at the site.
However, the OPW rejects any suggestion that it was to fund flood relief works at the Tesco site in Portarlington.
A statement from the agency said: "The OPWs contribution is to provide flood protection to deal with the existing flood risk in the town of Portarlington. Any protection works to development sites is a matter for the developer and the planning authority." Meanwhile, Mr Moloney said the council should have "never indicated" that planning permission would be granted for the supermarket to be built on the flood plains.
"I can see no way this can go ahead next week. It also begs the question about whether or not our county council should be the planning authority in these areas," he added.
Portarlington resident David Orford objected to the development on the flood plains.
"I cannot understand how Laois County Council granted planning permission for this site, it floods on an annual basis. There's pictures going back the last 20 years. Our house is close to the river and last week the water came up to our door almost. There were more places flooded along Patrick Street, that have never flooded before, since all of the development along here," he added.
A spokesperson for Laois County Council was unavailable for comment.
Meanwhile Fine Gael's environment spokesman, Terence Flanagan, said Mr Gormley's pledge would be tested by a separate decision made by Galway County Council to grant permission to New Market Projects Ltd to build 48 houses on a flood plain.
Eimear Ni Bhraonain
Irish Independent 23.08.08
We at Soldiers of Destiny.org have drawn up plans to resolve Tesco's dilemma.(See photos above) We cannot understand why the Fianna Fail councillors in Laois County Council, and elsewhere have been criticized for rezoning their cronies' flood planes and giving planning permission for new supermarkets and housing estates etc. We must plan for Venetian style developments in the face of global warming and further monsoons.
Monday February 11 2008
Developers are being banned from tackingDublin-style housing estates onto small rural villages unless they first provide extra schools and facilities for proper public transport.
The radical move by Environment Minister John Gormley yesterday puts him on a direct collision course with hundreds of Fianna Failand Fine Gael councillors who have been backing developer-led housing at the expense of their local communities.
Tough new guidelines, which must be adhered to by local authorities and An Bord Pleanala, demand that builders must install the infrastructure before they build the houses.
It will be also be illegal for councillors and council planners to ride roughshod over the guidelines.
Mr Gormley is taking on developers who have made a fortune at the expense of small rural communities hit by a rapidly increasing population in areas without adequate infrastructure to cope.
He is also reining in councillors who give the green light to unsustainable, inappropriate housing which makes a fortune for developers, but leaves locals picking up the cost in the form of traffic jams, overcrowded schools, poor water quality, and sometimes flooding where houses are built on flood plains.
Councillors will be furious at Mr Gormley's legal move to curb their planning free-for-all.
Hundreds of small villages around the country have seen an explosion of Dublin-style suburban housing estates without adequate provision for schools, public transport or even adequate roads or lighting and are now playing catch-up.
New families are being forced to commute long distances for work and school on dangerous unsuitable, clogged roads
In an unprecedented move a letter will be sent to every local authority from the Environment Minister ordering them to have regard to the guidelines.
And, in a follow up move, the minister is introducing legislation making it illegal for councillors or council planners to breach the guidelines.
Mr Gormley yesterday launched new draft new planning guidelines on sustainable residential development in urban areas
He also released a best practice urban design manual for local authorities which illustrates how the guidelines can be implemented across the different types of development around the country.
The aim is to provide better quality houses and more sustainable communities.
By 2020, the population of Dublin city is expected to increase by 12pc to almost 1.5 million,Cork city by 25pc to almost 150,000 people, Galway city by 45pc to 105,000 people andMallow, which is currently a medium-sized town, could double to almost 20,000 people over the period.
Mr Gormley said yesterday that an ever-expanding footprint of our urban areas is not sustainable into the future.
The target was to provide high-density development only in the right locations which are well serviced in terms of public transport and community facilities and also built to the highest possible standards.
The Irish Planning Institute (IPI) last night praised the guidelines, particularly the attempt to secure better co-ordination between the development of new housing and the provision of essential infrastructure, such as schools and other social facilities.
But county councillors dismissed the Minister's plans as "tinkering around the edges" of a system in crisis.
- Treacy Hogan Environment Correspondent