Thursday 19 September 2019

The huge estate left neglected at the edge of town

Ilza Bedrite with Oisin, Callum and Jay Redmond
Ilza Bedrite with Oisin, Callum and Jay Redmond

By David Looby

SIGNPOSTS pointing to businesses that don't exist. A towering community centre which has never been used. Large derelict buildings with green mould. Faded wooden cladding and broken windows. Dumping grounds just beyond the edges of the estate.

This is Clonard Village 2015, a far cry from the brochures which attracted up to 300 people to invest in different phases of the estate at the height of the Celtic Tiger.

Billed as the place to live in Wexford, the estate was never completed as developers Cleary & Doyle went into receivership in December 2011. The Cleary Doyle group - which was founded in 1961 by John Doyle and Eugene Cleary - was one of the county's largest and directly employed over 350 people, but this dropped to 15 people during the bust.

Plans for a playground, a health centre, a crèche and a busy office area foundered on the rocks of post Celtic Tiger Wexford, and today there are only a few businesses operating in the large business area which fronts onto the road. The decision by Wexford County Council to grant planning to Aldi nearby has not gone down well with some residents who feel the low cost supermarket's promiximity will be a disincenitve for the opening of a shop or supermarket in the estate.

With 220 houses and 71 apartments, Clonard Village is one of the county's biggest estates, but residents feel it has become an eyesore in certain parts, with dumping, teenage drinking and criminal behaviour increasingly occurring.

Originally planned to be a 700-unit scheme, it was designed to cater for 2,000 people. It was part of one of the county's most rapidly growing areas, with planning approved for 748 houses (2,500 bed spaces) at Killeens and 267 houses at Clonard Great, Killeens, opposite the Whitford House Hotel.

Wexford councillor Fergie Kehoe said there is a lack of a community feel to the estate because residents come and go so often.

Cllr Kehoe said: 'There are a lot of non-nationals who might be there for a few months and then they're gone again. It wouldn't have the same level of community spirit as other areas of the town.'

He said residents who bought houses in the estate at the start of the Celtic Tiger were let down.

'I feel they were let down because of the promise that was there when it started. I know some people who opened businesses up there and they had to close.

'Both they and the residents signed up to this big vision that Clonard was going to be the be all and end all in Wexford - but unfortunately it didn't happen.

'I feel that whole area was overdeveloped and there was a focus on moving everything out of the town centre and we've seen what has happened in other towns when that has been allowed to happen to a wholesale degree.'

Cllr Anthony Kelly said people who bought into the Clonard Village scheme did so believing in a promise that it would be a great community to live in.

'Unfortunately a lot of problems have developed in the estate over the years and something needs to be done as a matter of urgency for the residents living there,' he said.

Wexford People

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