A PROPOSED €20 million development by Lidl Ireland “will not compete” with businesses in Ennis’ town centre the developers have insisted.
Further information regarding the plans has been submitted to Clare County Council in response to a number of issues raised about the proposed development including its potential “adverse impact” on the town centre.
Retailer representative group The Retail Grocery Dairy & Allied Trades Association and local business owners have also voiced concerns about the plans.
Lidl is seeking planning permission for the development of a new store and mixed-use development at the junction of the Clare Road (R458) and Toberteascain Road.
If given the go-ahead, the development will include 20 residential apartments, a café and two commercial units.
According to the supermarket giant the development will create 30 local jobs along with 100 more during construction if granted planning permission.
Among the concerns raised by the local authority was the potential cumulative impact of the proposed development with a commercial development by Aldi on the Kilrush Road which is currently awaiting a decision from An Bord Pleanala.
A report compiled on behalf of the Lidl developers by MKO Planning and Environmental Consultants responding to the further information request states both developments are located on sites specifically identified in the County Development Plan for the provision of ‘Neighbourhood Centres’ i.e. small anchor convenience retail stores with complementary/ancillary neighbourhood uses.
“It is assumed that in designating these sites for this purpose as part of their Strategic Planning function, the planning authority took into consideration the provision of the Retail Planning Guidelines and concluded that by virtue of the nature and scale of the retail uses specified, there would be no adverse impact on the vitality and viability of the town centre.”
The report states, “The uses proposed as part of this planning application will not compete with the town centre as the retail function of the town centre is the higher order comparison retail destination for the county.”
It continues, “The proposed development, considered cumulatively with the proposed development on the Kilrush Road, by virtue of the predominant land use proposed i.e. convenience retail development, will have no material impact on Ennis Town Centre.”
A master plan has been submitted with the application identifying potential future uses for the wider site.
According to the developers these uses are notional and are not a definitive development proposal.
The type of retail identified on the master plan lands are ‘bulky retail’, typically large household items and white goods.
According to the MKO report, “Bulky goods retailing does not compete with the town centre for shoppers given the very different retail functions off the town centre and any proposed bulky retail use.
“Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that the provision of bulky retail uses on the wider master plan will not have any material impact on the vitality and viability of the Ennis Town Centre.”
Responding to issues raised with the design and massing of the buildings the report states the design approach was taken “to attempt to break up the mass and bulk of the buildings and creative attractive public realm areas and pedestrian linkages between the buildings to create a high quality development that is inviting particularly for pedestrians.”
Amendments to the initial design have been made including to the roof of the food store, the amount of glazed area at the retail block with apartments overhead and the creation of “a more attractive public space with a seating area” adjacent to the proposed cafe.
The further information response also confirms that all recommendations contained in a Road Safety Audit have been accepted and incorporated into a revised site layout.
As well as the revised site layout documents included in the further information response include: a traffic and transport assessment, revised plant and site and public lighting drawings, revised sunlight/daylight report, traffic and transport assessment, revised architectural and landscape drawings and a construction and environmental management plan.
It concludes, “It is considered that the proposed development accords with national, regional and local planning policy as well as the proper planning and sustainable development of the area and that it will be a welcome addition in the local area and provide an opportunity to improve the current site conditions.”
The Retail Grocery Dairy & Allied Trades Association RGDATA has lodged an objection to the plans. It stated it is “particularly concerned with the planning implications of such a large scale retail development at this ‘out-of-town’ location on the periphery of Ennis”.
Paul and Kay Ryan of Ryan’s Centra, meanwhile, have stated the plans “would be detrimental” to existing smaller retail premises along the Limerick Road and would create “a counter attraction” to existing town centre services.