A NEW application for a major motorway service area that could employ 100 people is just around the corner, Pat McDonagh told The Clare Champion this week.
The Supermac’s founder is also involved with the Barack Obama Plaza in Moneygall and the Galway Plaza off the M6 between Galway and Dublin.
While a previous application for a similar development adjacent to Junction 12 at Killoo, Clarecastle, off the M18 was withdrawn, Mr McDonagh said another one is coming and he is confident it will be positively received.
“We’d be very positive. We’re going to be reapplying in the next few weeks. The architects, engineers and consultants are working on it now at the moment.
“The application should be submitted in the next three to four weeks. Then it has to go through the due process and it takes eight to nine weeks approximately after that. Sometimes they look for further information. It’ll be about three months or so before the decision is made.”
There were some objections made to Clare County Council regarding his proposal close to Junction 12.
In the coming months, the Gort to Tuam motorway will open, which will mean some motorists will have a far longer drive without passing through any towns or villages.
Mr McDonagh said if planning is granted, construction should be able to start within weeks and that it would be likely to be completed within six months.
“We know what we have to do from the Barack Obama Plaza and the Galway Plaza. We know what the process is,” he added.
Given the absence of roadside services that will exist between Limerick and Tuam, he expressed confidence about the prospects for such a business.
“There aren’t any services available as of yet. Transport Infrastructure Ireland are planning one down in Clarecastle and there probably will be more but it’s pretty much unserviced at the moment and there is a need for something to stop traffic and to redirect them to Ennis and West Clare etc.”
He has sought to minimise the impact of the development on existing retail outlets, saying that people are unlikely to turn off for petrol, unless stuck for it.
He added, “The food side and the shop, it’s not really your typical convenience shop. It’s drinks and coffees and things like that.”
In the region of 100 jobs would be created, should the development go ahead.
“It’s a 24-hour operation, so you allow for days off and having three shifts. Presently, we have around 120 at the Barack Obama Plaza.”
Mr McDonagh is involved in several other such businesses. As well as the well-known ones in Galway and Offaly, he has smaller ones in Mallow and Charlestown.
It’s a type of business that has only become significant in Ireland in recent years, due to the major improvements in road infrastructure.
“It has been totally driven by the motorways. When a motorway opens, it does affect the local town; we’d know that from being in other locations. When a motorway opens, you could lose 25% or 30% of your business overnight.
“People, when they are on the motorway, tend to keep going so this is a way of slowing them down and getting them to look around for a while. Some people will and some people won’t.”
Further improvements between Gort and Tuam will improve the prospects for the Ennis operation but he says it would be viable as is.
“You will have a motorway pretty much from Tuam to Limerick and even further afield, if you go to the other side of Limerick. But even without that motorway opening, there is still room for a services area there.”
Interestingly, he feels that the sector is going to be changed dramatically due to the emergence of electric cars.
“You will see charging points for cars in most of these stations going forward. In Britain, they expect that up to 50% of cars will be electric by 2040 and it will have a major impact on service stations. There will be a new model,” he concluded.