THE county council has been asked to outline its vision for Shannon’s future, following the recent rejection of an application for planning permission by Aldi.
There has been local anger at the rejection of the application, which people hoped would help revitalise the town and help towards giving it a conventional streetscape for the first time.
At this week’s Shannon Municipal District meeting, Councillors Mike McKee and Gerry Flynn both put down motions regarding local development, while there was very widespread annoyance among the members regarding it.
At Tuesday morning’s meeting, Councillor McKee said he had been amazed with the decision to give the Aldi proposal the thumbs down.
“I was stunned with the reasons given and I couldn’t understand the logic,” the Sinn Féin representative said.
He claimed that the development would have “taken away the stranglehold SkyCourt has on retail in Shannon”.
Councillor McKee said that he hopes Aldi appeal.
“I hope they appeal and are successful. For a brand as popular as Aldi to decide to invest a huge amount and create 20 jobs could encourage other retailers who don’t want to invest in SkyCourt.”
His motion asked for the council’s planning section to explain how they see the town of Shannon growing, in light of its refusal of the Aldi application.
A written reply was provided by senior planner Brian McCarthy, which said that the Shannon Town and Environs Local Area Plan 2012-18 sets out the place-making framework for Shannon and he said it “outlines the vision of the planning authority for an expanded town centre, specifically related to design and scale requirements”.
With the option still open for an appeal to An Bord Pleanála, he said the planning authority would not be elaborating beyond the response.
Councillor Flynn’s motion did not mention Aldi but asked, “That the senior planner in Clare County Council explain the rationale for refusing development in Shannon that would stimulate employment and encourage further investment in the town of Shannon”.
The reply from Mr McCarthy said the reason for the Aldi refusal was outlined in the planning file.
Responding, Councillor Flynn said it was “strange” that the reply had referred to a specific application, as his motion had not.
He also said that Shannon has deficits in its retail offering, with the public having to go to Ennis and Limerick.
Independent Councillor PJ Ryan was also critical of the decision.
“At the end of the day, it’s a backward step for Shannon,” he claimed.
“Shannon needs a streetscape and something needs to be done about it,” he added.
He said that if there had been problems with the design of the store, they could have been overcome, while he also said he hopes Aldi appeal and receive a better result.
Fianna Fáil’s Cathal Crowe said that poor decisions had been made in terms of planning in Clare in the past and that this was another example.
By Owen Ryan