PLANS for a second Aldi store in Ennis have been given the green light by Clare County Council despite opposition from local retailers.
The council has granted planning permission, subject to 10 conditions, to Brian Lohan for a change of use from retail warehouse to a discount food store at the Westpoint Retail Park on the Kilrush Road.
Assessing the proposal, planners with Clare County Council determined that the existing building “has been underutilised for some time and its redevelopment at this location would be positive and enhance the vibrancy of this particular part of the town”.
Aldi have already confirmed their intention to open a new store in the retail park if planning permission was granted for the change of use. According to Aldi this new outlet will create 30 new permanent jobs at the store, and up to 50 construction jobs, with the aim of opening in late 2023.
A number of local businesses had voiced concern about the plans, expressing fears that the supermarket would have a negative impact on trade in the town. Among those making submissions to the planning authority were O’Sullivan & Hansbury Motors; Harnett Homes and Estate Developers Ltd and Bridget Harnett the owners of the mixed use development at O’Sullivan & Hansbury Motors; Ryan’s Centra, Clonroadmore and World of Wonder in the Westpoint Retail Park.
Tesco Ireland and the Retail Grocery Dairy & Allied Trades Association (RGDATA), the representative association for independent family owned grocery outlets, also made submissions to the planning authority. Objections were also lodged by people living in the area.
This was the second application for the change of use of the building to provide a supermarket, with the first granted permission by the planning authority but later refused in 2018 on appeal to An Bord Pleanala. Issues raised by An Bord Pleanala at the time were the scale of the development, the mix of uses, the distance from the town centre and location on a major link road and the existing quantum of retail and commercial development in Ennis.
Since then the Kilrush Road retail park has seen the development of a HSE Outpatients Department on site. Assessing the latest application, a planner with Clare County Council noted that the current proposal has been revised from the earlier application to reduce the net floor space from 1,200sqm to 1,000sqm.
The planner’s report found that this is in accordance with the requirements of the County Development Plan and the particular objective for the site to provide a neighbourhood centre.
In carrying out the assessment, the planner stated he was “cognisant of the previous application and decision by the Board.”
In his view, “this current application, being solely for a retail store (net area 1,000sqm) meets the objectives and zoning of the Development Plan, is on an established commercial site which is fully serviced, with parking and good pedestrian access and allows for the revitalisation of this existing building, part of which has been vacant for some time.”
Noting the analysis and retail impact study carried out he said that while the proposal may serve a population outside of the catchment due to its proximity to the N85, “there is still sufficient population within the catchment to sustain this development”.
The affect of the proposal on traffic, visual amenity and residential amenity were also assessed and the planner recommended that planning permission be granted subject to a number of conditions.
The chief executive’s order to grant permission outlined that subject to compliance with conditions 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 property in the vicinity, would be acceptable in terms of traffic safety and convenience and would not be prejudicial to public health.”
Among the conditions are the submission of a revised site layout plan including swept analysis for HGV’s serving the site indicating the existing cycle lane, proposals for 20 covered bicycle parking spaces, details of boundary treatments, landscaping and lighting plans.
Two proposed totem signs on the Kilrush Road and Clonroadbeg Road have been omitted. No additional advertisement or advertising structure other than those shown on the plans are to be erected on displayed on the building without a further grant of planning permission.
Other conditions include that litter in the vicinity of the premises and on site is to be controlled and the opening hours of the development are 8am to 10pm daily, with deliveries between the hours of 7am and 10pm.
Aldi currently operates four stores in County Clare, with stores in Ennistymon, Killaloe, Kilrush and on Francis Street, Ennis.