Frank McDonald writing in today’s Irish Times reports that the local area plan for Bandon has zoned land for an additional 1,700 houses.  And yet he notes that land is already zoned for 1,500 houses, much of it it seems within the NAMA portfolio.  There are 6,119 houses in the Bandon Electoral Area Local Plan as of 2010.  The DEHLG survey of unfinished estates show that there are 9 such estates in the town of Bandon itself with a total of 370 planned units, of which 229 have been commenced (84 are occupied; 105 are completed and vacant, 40 still under-construction).  4 of the 9 estates have yet to be fully completed.  There are 305 unfinished estates in County Cork.

The local area plan then begs the usual questions. Why does Bandon need land zoned sufficient to increase the number of residential units in the area by 50%?  As it presently stands, the area already has an oversupply of units that it is finding it difficult to source residents for. Does the area really expect to double in size in the next 2-10 years (in other words are the population projections realistic)?  And why does the area want to zone land above and beyond that in the NAMA portfolio, on which the taxpayer has staked it’s financial future, at this point?  Surely additional zoned land is going to undermine the potential value of existing zoned lands, thus undermining the ability of NAMA to fulfil its mandate, and thus run counter to the national good?

It may well be that Bandon forms part of the Cork commuter belt, and it is projected to grow in the future, but surely land should be zoned on a needs be basis?  Or is there some other agenda at work in the local area plan?  Or perhaps the plan is still caught in a different era?  Whatever the rationale, it seems extremely unlikely that Bandon is going to need land for 3,200 additional houses in the immediate future.

Rob Kitchin