Landowners have been urged to ensure that valuable zoning of their property is not lost as Waterford Co. Council embarks on the first found of public consultations for its new County Development Plan.

Waterford based planning consultant Peter Thomson has offered free initial consultations to anyone considering making submission in respect of the Development Plan. The free consultation will provide a rating on the prospect of a successful submission.

The Council is obliged to review zoning under the new Plan and the Government‘s imminent Planning Bill is likely to see the introduction of far stricter controls on zoning.

The review of the current plan will provide a blueprint for the development of the county through to 2017, a timeframe extending beyond the present slowdown in construction, he said.

Submissions to the review of the current Waterford County Development Plan and the preparation of the new plan are being invited and will be accepted to May 18th.

“In response to concerns over past lax zoning, it is envisaged the Government will introduce guidance to Councils to ensue no more land is zoned than can be reasonably services,” said Mr Thomson, a former local authority planner.

“Councils will have to heed this advice or risk having the Minister do their job for them. It is essential to ensue that lands are not simply de-zoned because hey cannot be serviced in the short term.

“For example many towns and most villages have poor or no waste water treatment facilities. The answer must not be to strip away all of the under developed residentially zoned land simply because it cannot be serviced in the short term.

“It is the retention of zoning on this type of land that is essential to enable Councils to keep pressure on the Government to make funding available and ensue these services are delivered in the future for the benefit of all.

“In some cases, it will be the undeveloped zoned lands that will deliver the services themselves when proposals to develop emerge.”

Mr Thomson believes said a “balance has to be struck” to ensue sufficient land was available to meet needs once the current economic down turn reverses and demand for new housing increases.

He conceded that there would be losers who would inevitably have to accept de-zoning and the de-valuing of their land: some of those who bought at inflated prices as a result of past zoning had the most to lose.

“I expect that in preparing the new Development Plan, Waterford County Council will have to be fully satisfied that there is a very strong case for zoning particular lands for development,” said Mr Thomson.

“With the limited staff resources in local authorities the onus will no doubt be on the landowners and their planning advisers to make the case for zoning”.

County Waterford not only needs to strengthen larger settlements, but its smaller villages and ‘settlement nodes’ which are “the lifeblood of rural Ireland and provide essential rural services and facilities”.

For further details contact Peter Thomson Planning Solutions on 051-858719/086-8l96856 or by e-mail at