Further housing granted and more to follow

The growth of Kilmeaden village continues apace and signs are that it may soon be a de facto suburb of Waterford City.

That’s after the Clochán estate received the go-ahead to double its current footprint – with local councillor John O’Leary querying what community facilities will be provided.

“There’s a huge amount of development going on there,” he said of the site beside the Sweep Bar, where work commenced just over a year ago. Rapid progress has been made on the first two phases at Adamstown.

Responding at the January meeting of the Waterford Council Comeragh District, Aisling O’Sullivan, Senior Executive Planner, confirmed permission was granted on 10 January for a further stage of the scheme.

This will involve the demolition of two dwellings and existing farm buildings and the construction of 67 two-storey houses and an 8-unit apartment block.

A planners report prior to the latest permission noted that approval had already been granted for 180 dwellings between ‘An Clochán’ and ‘Fan Glas’. This is separate from this latest lot of new builds.

Cllr O’Leary (FF) said he’d been in discussions with the developers in relation to the provision of community facilities and wondered if local authority planning staff were also engaging on this.

Aisling O’Sullivan said the council would be working with Tramore-based SE Construction (Kent) Ltd going forward, and “a creche obviously [is] one of the things we’d be looking at.

The same company was behind the 69-unit ‘Fan Glas’ estate adjacent to the current ‘Clochán’ development — named after the Irish for “stepping stones” — and have been building homes in Waterford since 1970. Family-owned, they are one of the most highly regarded construction firms in the region with a reputation for quality workmanship.

In 2021, SE Construction (Kent) Ltd also bought the 67-acre former cheese factory site across the road from its existing developments, having already owned 20 acres of adjoining land below Blacknock.

Kilmeaden is listed as a ‘Rural Village’ in the County Development Plan 2022-28. This equates to populations of less than 500 in a village and its immediate rural area. At 260 inhabitants, Kilmeaden was still well below that threshold according to All-Island Research Observatory’s Waterford Socio-Economic Profile, 2021.

Homes there are being marketed as being “in a highly sought-after” location within a few minutes’ drive of the City, the Greenway, the Bypass/Dublin Motorway, with leisure amenities in easy reach.

In a separate context, Cllr O’Leary told last Wednesday’s Comeragh District meeting that with 240-250 children in Ballyduff National School, no different from every parish in the county, “it’s mayhem” with traffic at drop-off and collection times.

In a 2021 submission as part of the County Development Plan review, he asked that the “upmost consideration” be given to balanced development, saying “any future building of houses in the Kilmeaden area goes far beyond the requirement of local housing needs.” He expressed concern as to the consideration given to “appropriate infrastructure or community services.”

He contended that spreading housing needs between other settlements like Dunhill, Kill, Bunmahon, Newtown, Clonea and Rathgcormack “would make good planning sense.”

Because Kilmeaden is close to the Waterford Metropolitan Area Strategic Plan, drawn up to tie in with the Government’s Ireland 2040 framework, larger than normal developments for villages (usually confined to small clusters of 5-10 houses) can be considered if services allow.

Based on cumulative housing approvals, “it is incumbent on the planning authority to insist that a childcare facility be provided as part of this phase of the development in accordance with national guidelines,” planners have advised.

Aisling O’Sullivan told Cllr O’Leary that a creche “would be the main community facility” given that National Childcare Facility Guidelines require one per 75 dwellings in new housing areas. None was proposed in previous phases.

In 2021, SE Construction (Kent) Ltd also bought the 67-acre former cheese factory site across the road from its existing developments, having already owned 20 acres of adjoining land below Blacknock.

With the plant having been levelled in 2018, the acquisition of the old cheese factory lands met with a positive response from the local business community. Parallel investment in the area indicates that Kilmeaden is fast becoming one of the places to be in East Waterford and its population may well surpass ‘village’ status before the decade is out.

Jamie O’Keeffe