The map outlining the proposed conservation area around Tara and Skryne.

Families face planning curbs under new Tara buffer zone plan

A controversial proposal to throw a large buffer zone around the Tara and Skryne area has led to claims that hundreds of acres of land across central Meath will be sterilised, providing significant obstacles for local residents applying for one-off rural housing permission. One local county councillor has said that generations of local families in an area stretching from Tara and Skryne to Kilmessan, Garlow Cross, Walterstown and Dunsany could be prevented from building homes if the Tara-Skryne Draft Landscape Conservation Plan proposed by Meath County Council, in conjunction with the Department of the Environment and The Heritage Council, is formally adopted by the local authority. Fiann Fail Cllr Nick Killian has described the plan as "a sop to the M3 protesters by Minister John Gormley and another shot at rural living, preventing one-off rural housing. It's a last sting from a dying wasp". He said residents of all the areas affected, from Connell's Cross to Walterstown, should secure a copy of the proposal from Meath County Council and fully brief themselves on the serious difficulties that this will cause for generations of local residents in providing future homes for their families. Cllr Killian said he intends to call a public meeting to ensure that the local communities affected are fully appraised of the impact of this new conservation area. "Everyone should look at and familiarise themselves with the documents which will be on public display," he said this week. The plan set outs the categories of development which will no longer constitute exempted development (whether under Planning and Development Act, 2000, or sections 4 or the Planning and Development Regulations, 2001) within the Tara-Skryne Landscape Conservation Area. The plan, which indicates the proposed boundaries of the landscape conservation area around Tara and Skryne, went on public display last week. There will be a six-week public display period during which time submissions can be made. The draft landscape conservation order will be proposed for adoption by the members of the council at their July meeting. The order will enable the planning authority to de-exempt certain development which would otherwise constitute exempted development. This means that certain categories of development which do not normally require planning permission will do so now. The consultation document says that this does not mean that permission will not be granted, but rather people will be required to apply for planning permission for such developments. These proposed categories are listed in the draft order. Planning officials and heritage staff of Meath County Council already have held information and consultation evenings with members of the public in Tara and Skryne. The purpose of the project is to recognise the significance of the area and implement the policies and objectives of the Meath County Development Plan 2007-2013. The council said it wants to promote sustainable landscape management in accordance with best practice and support the delivery of agreed environmental, economic, social and cultural heritage community initiatives. It added that there is a strong emphasis on design in the landscape plan. The deadline for receipt of submissions is Wednesday 16th June next. At this week's meeting of Meath County Council, Cllr Brian Fitzgerald said the difficulties posed by the proposed plan were the same as those presented by the plan for the Newgrange area. He said he would like to know what were the plan's implications and what was proposed. He said the Department of the Environment was "running to do something like this before the M3 opens. We all want to see Tara and Skryne improved but there are widespread implications for people who have land in the area, and for people who have developments in the area as it is". There was a "huge area" to be taken in by the plan and he wanted to know what implications there were for the sons or daughters of landowners in the ares who might want to give them sites for house-building, he said. There might be a need to compensate people who would be affected by the changes proposed by the council, he added. There was an outstanding need for the people who lived in the area to understand the implications of this plan. Council chairman, Cllr Bill Carey, said that the plan was on display and everybody had a right to express an opinion on it if they wished. Cllr Fitzgerald said that it was the councillors themselves who would have to be informed of the implications. Cllr Jimmy Cudden said the Slane Electoral Area members would agree with what he had to say about a similar plan for the Newgrange area. He said councillors had been taken on a tour of the general Newgrange-Knowth-Dowth area and no-one could tell them where was boundary of the proposed buffer zone was. If the council was going to make a decision on the sterilising of land in the Tara-Skryne area, then he suggested the 29 members of the council should be brought and shown exactly where the boundaries of the proposed buffer zone were. "I don't want to see happening in Tara-Skryne what happened in the Newgrange area. I don't want to see a person who owns land in the proposed buffer zone being unable to provide a site for a house for a son or daughter," he said. Cllr Wayne Harding said that, in regard to the Newgrange plan, it was "virtually impossible" to get planning permission inside the buffer zone. County manager Tom Dowling said the plan was something that people should be "quite excited about" because it would help the county's economic wellbeing in the long term. A written statement on the plan, along with a map showing the boundaries of the proposed conservation area, is on display for public inspections at the following locations until 16th June: Planning Office, Abbey Mall, Abbey Street, Navan; Navan Town Council, Watergate Street, Navan; Navan Library, Railway Street, Navan; Dunshaughlin Area Office, Drumree Road, Dunshaughlin, and at The council has invited interested parties to make submissions in respect of the landscape conservation plan before 3.30pm on Wednesday 16th June next. Submissions or observations made will be taken into consideration by the council before the making of the conservation area, due to be decided at its July meeting.