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Ennis district centre project a deterrent to SMEs?

THE development of a large food store or district centre at a site on the outskirts of Ennis could have the potential to deter small and medium-sized enterprise, as well as lead to increased levels of air pollution, a report has outlined.

In July, members of Ennis Town Council suggested an amendment to the proposed variation 2 of the Ennis and Environs Development Plan 2008-2014 to include that a development site at the Limerick Road and Clonroadmore be, subject to assessment of retail impact, “a suitable location for a district centre scheme or a new large foodstore”.
The site is currently the subject of a planning application by Michael Lynch Ltd for a 7,000 square metre retail development with 610 car parking spaces. Tesco Ireland are expected to occupy the site if granted planning permission.
A Strategic Environmental Assessment into the variation of the development plan has raised concerns about the proposed amendment, stating it is considered “that this type of development may deter small and medium-sized enterprise”.
The assessment recommended that “any potential development must not only undertake an assessment of retail impact, (which should include an assessment of secondary, cumulative, synergistic, short, medium and long-term environmental, social and economic effects) but must also comply with all objectives in the Ennis and Environs Development Plan 2008-2014.
“Consideration must also be given to the increased level of vehicles in the area, which may give rise to increased levels of air pollution and implications on the quality of life on nearby residents.”
The development plan also identifies a portion of the site of Our Lady’s Hospital for the possible relocation of Ennis Educate Together School. According to the plan, adequate lands exist to facilitate such a development.
In July, Ennis Town Council agreed to amend the proposed variation to include ‘medical centre/hospital use’ as an appropriate use for Our Lady’s Hospital.
The site has already been deemed appropriate for mixed use technology related business park, international services, research and development, education, railway station, road link, open space, hotel and ancillary uses and residential with ancillary small scale retail.
The Strategic Environmental Assessment considered that given the array of appropriate uses and the previous use of the site as a hospital, the inclusion of ‘medical centre/hospital use’ in the development plan will not have a greater environmental effect than that of previous uses.
According to the development plan, “There is substantial scope for regeneration of the site and a high quality office complex has recently been completed. The site is considered to have a central role in the growth and development of the Clare economy.”
The plan outlines that the site’s location adjacent to the railway line and its potential for employment creation and commuter trip attraction is such that a new station should be included in any development proposals.
The main building lends itself to residential apartment use, including a retirement village complex, while the plan also outlines that any redevelopment would have to respect the existing architectural character of the Protected Structure.
The proposed variation 2 of the Ennis and Environs Development Plan 2008-2014 will continue to be on public display until Friday, September 9.


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