TWO former mayors of Ennis are at odds over plans for the development of a shop in the Turnpike area of the town.
Planning permission has been granted by Clare County Council to Geltec Retail Limited for an off-licence to be installed at the shop formerly owned by the O’Dowd family.
Former mayor of Ennis, Michael Guilfoyle objected to the plans to change the use of the existing convenience shop to include an off-licence of 22m2.
However, another former mayor, Councillor Pat Daly, has come out in support of the plans, which he has described as a “great boost for the Turnpike”.
Councillor Daly made representations to the county council in favour of the proposal during the planning process.
Speaking after the decision to grant permission, subject to five conditions, Councillor Daly stated, “I welcome the granting of planning permission. This will allow the shop to upgrade. The O’Dowd family had traded in this store for 40 years, offering a great service to the local community, and the new owners want to expand.
“They have to compete with other businesses in the town and, with 20 people working there, this upgrade will be of great benefit. In order to have a top class standard of shop you have to have all the goods that people want. Also, there are plans for a coffee deck, which I believe will be a great place for people from the Turnpike and throughout Ennis to meet.”
According to the developers, the plans will result in a “revamped neighbourhood store” for the locality.
The development includes minor alterations to the internal building layout to include provision of a customer seating area and changes to the north and west elevations.
However, Mr Guilfoyle, a former member of Ennis Town Council, who lives near the shop, stated in his objection that there is not enough vehicle parking outside the shop.
“Residents are being prevented from entering their property,” he outlined.
He said that a large number of young people from St Flannan’s use the shop every day. He warned that, while an ATM facility is welcome, “It will also bring its own dangers for staff and members of the public.”
He added that there is “extremely strong evidence of alcoholic drinking within the vicinity of this area. Illegal dumping of bottles and cans has increased in this area also.”
He pointed out that there are 12 off-licence businesses operating in Ennis at present. “I feel that there is no need in placing another off-licence in a high residential area such as ours.”
He continued, “I recognise that, although this shop holds a wine licence currently, this has not created added pressures on the area.”
Mr Guilfoyle concluded, “The Turnpike is a very old area, with a high percentage of elderly residents. Anti-social behaviour or possibility of such is not acceptable in the safeguarding of our neighbours and residents.”
However, according to APS Consulting on behalf of the developers, the proposed development does not generate a requirement for additional parking spaces.
“The applicant has operated a number of similar businesses throughout the country and has 25 years’ experience in the retail business. Throughout this time, they have been involved in the sale of age-related products, including alcohol.”
They point out that Geltec Ltd are members of Responsible Retailing of Alcohol in Ireland (RRAI) and commit to abide by the code of practice on the display and sale of alcohol products in mixed trading premises. This includes a commitment to staff training and insistence on the production of a proof-of-age for purchase of alcohol products.
The additional information to the planning authority continued, “A number of safeguards will be introduced to ensure alcohol products are sold in a responsible manner. All purchasers of alcohol, who appear to be under the age of 25, will be required to produce valid identification.
“The point of sale system is designed to remind staff of the requirement to ask for ID. Alcohol can only be sold by trained members of staff over the age of 18 years.
“The current situation in relation to the dumping of waste bottles and cans is unfortunate and deplorable. However, the minority’s disregard for litter laws should not mean the majority suffer, and they deserve to have a revamped neighbourhood store, providing a full range of services, without the need to travel.”
By Jessica Quinn