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The unit at Westpoint Business Park on the Kilrush Road in Ennis which is set to be transformed into a new Aldi. Photograph by John Kelly

An Bord Pleanála overrules inspector to approve new Ennis Aldi

AN Bord Pleanála has overruled one of its own inspector and opened the door to a major commercial development in Ennis.

The board’s inspector had recommended overturning a Clare County Council decision allowing a new Aldi store at Westpoint on the Kilrush Road; he was overruled, however, and the development has been given the go-ahead.

In a report prepared following the appeal of Clare County Council’s decision to give Maom Property Ltd & Lohan Property Ltd planning permission, An Bord Pleanála Planning Inspector Adrian Ormsby warned that the development would be detrimental to Ennis town centre.

“It is considered that, notwithstanding the ‘Commercial’ zoning and the ‘COM6’ zoning objective of the site for use as a ‘neighbourhood centre’, the proposed development would contribute to an excessive scale which is beyond what would be reasonably envisaged for a neighbourhood centre in this area and would be of a nature and scale that would create a counter-attraction to existing town centre services in Ennis, which would seriously impact on the vitality and vibrancy of the town centre.”

Mr Ormbsy was also of the opinion that it would constitute an unsustainable form of development that would be principally dependent on private car-based transport.

He said it would be serving a wider catchment than the Cahircallamore neighbourhood area, “as envisaged by objective COM6 in the Development Plan and the catchment area identified in the submitted Retail Impact Statement”.

He concluded that the proposal would be contrary to Ministerial Guidelines on Retail Planning and to the provisions of the County Development Plan.

However the submissions included in the file and Mr Ormsby’s report were considered at a Board meeting held on November 11 and the Board voted 2-1 to grant permission subject to conditions.

Explaining the reasoning, the Board’s order said, “In deciding not to accept the Inspector’s recommendation to refuse permission, the Board noted the ‘Commercial’ zoning and the ‘COM6’ principal development objective for the site that is to secure the optimum reuse of the existing building on site, by providing a neighbourhood centre that serves the Cahircallamore neighbourhood with a mix of uses anchored by a supermarket/grocery store up to 1,200 square metres net floor area.

“The Board was satisfied that the proposal for a retail store with a net area of 1,000 square metres meets the applicable development objective and complies with the applicable zoning as set out in the Clare County Development Plan 2017-2023, as varied.

The Board stated it also took into consideration the site characteristics, which comprises an existing partially vacant building on a site that is fully serviced, with parking and good pedestrian access.

The report said they were satisfied that “when taken with the applicable local and national planning poicy, the proposed development would not unduly affect the viability and vitality of the Ennis town centre, would not seriously injure the amenities of the area or of property in the vicinity, would be acceptable in terms of traffic safety and would not be prejudicial to public health”.

Furthermore the Board said it was satisfied that the proposed development would not be contrary to local or national planning policy and overall would be in accordance with the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.

Planning permission was granted subject to 14 conditions, including limitations on the hours the discount foodstore may open and the omission of proposed signs on the Kilrush Road and the Clonroadbeg Road.

In a statement, Aldi said it expects the store to open towards the end of next year, while it says it will result in 30 permanent jobs, with up to 50 jobs during the construction stage.
Commenting on the decision, Colin Breslin, Regional Managing Director, ALDI Ireland said: “We are delighted to receive planning permission from An Bord Pleanála to open a second store in Ennis.

“Our Francis Street store is one of our busiest and most popular stores in the country.”

Martin O’Malley was associated with the planning application and he said he was very grateful for the support from some residents of the area and that he was pleased with the decision.

Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.