The old Braun site in Carlow
Councillors have begun the process to re-zone the Braun site in Carlow Town after the local authority was contacted by the property owner.
The Planning Authority has received a formal request to consider a proposed variation to the Joint Spatial Plan for the Carlow/Graiguecullen Greater Urban Area 2012-2018 "seeking to amend the land-use zoning on the Braun site from Industrial to Enterprise and Employment".
The former site of the German manufacturing plant was closed in 2009 but at one stage, it was the biggest employer in Carlow with 1,400 workers.
The request states that the proposed variation incorporating a change in the land use zoning "would make the site more attractive to hi-tech and office based industries thereby facilitating a range of new office facilities on the site".
Speaking at a full meeting of Carlow County Council on Monday, chief executive of the Council, Kathleen Holohan said the suggestion for the re-zoning came from the property owner.
Cllr Fintan Phelan said "anything we can do to encourage occupation of the Braun site is welcome" while Cllr Ken Murnane said it would "help to eventually get people into the Braun site".
In a letter to members, Ms Holohan, said: "It is considered that the proposed change in zoning would be appropriate. The reasons for the variation would be to facilitate a broader range of employment uses on the site having regard to;
a. the current condition and appearance of the site and the objective to improve the visual amenity of this strategic approach road to Carlow Town Centre;
b. the existing pattern of development in the immediate area much of which is currently zoned enterprise and employment;
c. the long-term vacancy of the site"
The letter added: "The change in zoning sought would provide for a broader range of uses permissible on this strategic brownfield opportunity site within Carlow Town and the further expansion of available enterprise and employment lands within Carlow.
"The zoning objective pertaining to Enterprise and Employment Lands provides for campus-style offices, storage and warehousing uses, wholesaling and distribution, commercial services with high space and parking requirements where it may not be possible to find a town centre location.
"The change in zoning would result in certain uses which are not permissible under the current industrial zoning being permitted in principle/open for consideration under the proposed enterprise and employment zoning including: office-based enterprise; call centres; wholesale outlets; conference centre; hospital; primary health care centre and recreational facilities etc.
"Other industrial uses e.g. light industry, laboratory research, craft industry, enterprise incubator units will also remain permissible/open for consideration within the proposed Enterprise and Employment zoning."
Under Section 13 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (as amended), the planning authority may at any time, for stated reasons, decide to make a variation of a development plan.
Members voted by a show of hands to put the proposed change on public display before it comes to the members again for ratification at a full meeting of the local authority.
The process is expected to take between five and six months between public consultation and advertising the proposed change.