German discount supermarket chain Aldi has been refused planning permission by Clare County Council to construct a proposed 1,762 square metre premises in Shannon on the basis that the development would be “contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.”
Independent councillor Gerry Flynn expressed his disappointment with the decision and said he is surprised Aldi did not engage in pre-planning meetings with the council and astounded that permission was refused without seeking further information.
Explaining the reasons for refusing the application, senior planner Brian McCarthy noted: “the proposed development fails to provide a satisfactory level of urban design and street frontage, height, presence, definition at this prominent urban street location in Shannon Town centre.”
In addition, Mr McCarthy stated that the proposal, “does not provide an appropriate mix, range and type of uses consistent with the zoning objective of the site.
“Furthermore, it is considered that the proposed development, by reason of its layout, setback of building and extent of ground floor single-use car-parking area, would prejudice the future development of the wider site… and would contravene Objective 5.7 of the Local Area Plan (LAP).”
In Mr McCarthy’s view, “the proposed development would seriously injure the amenities of the area and would be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.”
A key objective of the Shannon Town and Environs Local Area Plan 2012-2018 (LAP) is “to facilitate development of an expanded town centre to provide, inter alia, a new street plaza, high street retail uses… and a major anchor store facility/outlet or discount centre or retail mall in the northern section of the town centre.”
Addressing a recent meeting of Shannon Municipal District Council, senior planner Brian McCarthy told councillors that while Clare County Council sets a framework for development in the LAP, it is reliant on developments by third parties to achieve this aim.
Following the refusal of planning permission for Aldi’s proposal, Cllr Flynn stated that the council has been in charge in Shannon for the last 13 years, the Local Area Plan has been around for five years and “this is just more of the same old guff”.
Aldi’s application (Ref. 17500) proposed a new development consisting of a single-storey food store, including off-licence, on a site located off the R471 at An Bóthar Mór. The development includes 1,254 square metres of retail space serviced by 109 car parking spaces.
The site is located opposite the main entrance to SkyCourt town centre on land owned by Wm Neville & Sons Construction, Wexford.
The planning file shows that Clare County Council received two objections to the proposed development. In one, a lady with a Limerick City address stated; “there currently (sic) enough retail units in Shannon to cater for the public and to service the people living in Shannon”.
A more detailed objection was received on behalf of SkyCourt Management Company. Seeking to protect businesses currently operating from SkyCourt, the submission stated: “the existing town centre is vulnerable and a substantial commercial development outside the centre could seriously harm the centre.”