Drogheda & East Meath Fianna Fáil Councillor Stephen McKee has confirmed that he will be opposing the plan for almost 570 modular houses in Laytown.

McKee told Meath Live ‘I will be opposing the proposal for almost 570 modular homes in Laytown for a number of reasons. Ukrainians are very welcome to Ireland and we have a duty of care and responsibility to ensure that they are well looked-after and can safely settle in and integrate into our society. But it all has to be done in a properly planned way.’

‘The priority for East Meath as laid out in the Meath County Development Plan 2021-2027 is to focus on improvements in services, facilities and infrastructure that will meet the needs of our rapidly expanded population and assist in the creation of a more balanced and sustainable community. This is a sensible approach.’

‘Residential growth in the area should focus on consolidation and the completion of ongoing developments in order to allow social and community infrastructure to catch up. The Coastal Meath area desperately needs the provision of additional social and community infrastructure.’

‘We have a situation whereby there is already a shortage of school places and special needs resources for our children; residents find it very difficult to access health services, there is no Community Centre and we don’t yet have a full-time local Garda Station serving the District to help combat increasing violent crime. How can the area realistically accommodate residents from a new 569 home development and be able to offer them the basic services they need when they aren’t there currently? It is unfair both on local residents and on those expected to live in such a development. The facilities and resources to accommodate potentially a couple of thousand new residents are simply not there.’

‘Furthermore, the site in question beside Laytown Train Station has been identified and zoned as a ‘Strategic Employment Site’ for the creation of local jobs. Coastal East Meath has the lowest jobs to workforce ratio in County Meath with the vast majority of local people commuting to work outside the area.’

‘This site will be vital in helping to create local jobs in the area and Meath County Council have already given a commitment that its Economic Development Team will put in place a significant marketing strategy to help promote the site and attract inward investment and jobs. We need to reduce the levels of outbound commuting from the area and help improve the quality of life for families and promote a healthy work-life balance. Providing local jobs into the future will be a key part of achieving that. That is why maintaining the current zoning is so important. I oppose any type of housing development on such land.’

‘A long-term plan in how we are going to accommodate Ukrainian refugees is badly needed. When it comes to ensuring safe integration and deciding how many refugees we should accommodate and where, the Government needs to base its decisions on the needs of local areas and their capacity to accommodate those seeking assistance.’

‘Drogheda and East Meath will play a vital part in that. We should take in as many Ukrainian refugees as we reasonably can and we need to ensure that we choose the right locations, types of accommodation and have community buy-in from the start to ensure the best possible outcome both for our Ukrainian visitors and local residents. With proper planning and community engagement, it can be successfully done’ concluded McKee