Call for council to rezone Wexford development site
THE COUNTY Council is to be asked to rezone a four-and-half acre greenfield site at Whiterock Hill to prevent it from falling into the hands of developers.
If the zoning can be changed from residental to community, the land could be incorporated into St Joseph's GFC, which acquired the 10 acres next door to the site from NAMA.
The site is owned by vulture fund Cerberus and has been placed on the market through auctioneer John Radford.
'I believe the social dividend of providing suitable facilities for the current and future development of St Joseph's Club far outweighs the needs of a developer,' said Cllr George Lawlor, who says he is confident that his council colleagues and the council's planners will back him.
The land, which could be worth in the region of €100,000 an acre under its current zoning, was owned by Greentree Developments, then it went to NAMA before being sold on to Cerberus as part of a portfolio.
It is one of a number of properties in the town, including some with businesses in-situ as tenants, that Cerberus is trying to sell.
Cllr Lawlor wants the site included in the new draft development, and re-zoned as amenity land.
'St Joseph's has been hugely successful since locating to their new home on Whiterock Hill and have facilitated both the Gaelscoil and Kennedy Park schools and the wide community and ideally I would like to see the land handed to them,' he said.
'However, as it stands, the development price would be far out of the reach of the local club. If we rezone it, the price would have to become far more reasonable,' said Cllr Lawlor who has held talks with St Joseph's covering their future needs.
No-one at the club wanted to comment publicly on the issue.
A letter written to then-mayor Cllr Lawlor by council director of services Tony Larkin in 2014, said he was of the view that the members of the council will be supportive of a change of zoning from residential to community with respect to the lands at the GAA club.
'I am not able to take a firm position in this matter, but I would certainly not oppose such a zoning', said Mr Larkin.
'This use would also support the GAA club. If such change of zoning emerges it would have my support and I believe the support of a significant number of elected members on the local authority,' he said.
Local residents in Whiterock Hill are also in support of the change in zoning and the move to keep the green space as an amenity.
'We would be very supportive of any changes that might facilitate St Josephs in keeping that piece of land,' said Frank Clinton, spokesman for the residents' group.
'We have been wondering for years what would happen to that land which was left in a rough state following the collapse of the Celtic Tiger. 'In recent times, St Josephs has been maintaining it and it would be a great pity if some sort of commercial activity took place there,' he said, complementing the club on its transparency with local residents during its own development. 'We're kind of happy with the way things are. If it ain't broken, don't fix it.'