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High-profile objections to second Aldi in Ennis

PLANS by Clare hurling manager Brian Lohan for a new Aldi store in Ennis are being challenged by a number of objectors who have lodged appeals to An Bord Pleanala.
Among those opposing the proposal are the representative body for independent grocery store owners The Retail Grocery Dairy & Allied Trades Association (RGDATA).
The group stated, “If left unchecked the cumulative effect of significant new convenience retail developments at multiple neighbourhood locations poses a real threat to the future vitality and viability of the town centre.
“This has the potential to compromise the delivery of town centre expansion.”
Appeals have also been lodged by Paul and Kay Ryan of Ryan’s Centra and Harnett Homes and Estate Developers.
Moam Property Ltd & Lohan Property Ltd are behind the plans for a change of use from a retail warehouse to a discount foodstore at the Westpoint Retail Park on the Kilrush Road.
Last month Clare County Council gave the proposal the green-light subject to conditions.
Local authority planners stated 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 has already confirmed its intention to open a new store in the retail park if planning permission was granted.
In their appeal RGDATA director general Tara Buckley said the organisation was “particularly concerned with the planning implications of such a large-scale retail development at this ‘out-of-town location on the periphery of Ennis”.
The group supports sustainable and strategic retail development as well as new shops and new formats in town centres and retail zones, she stated.
However, she continued, “We are of the opinion that the proposed development represents a significant threat to the vitality and viability of the town centre and should not be permitted.”
She outlined that the location and scale of the proposed development will “draw from a much wider customer base and will therefore result in a much greater retail impact on the surviving shops operating in the town centre”.
The appeal on behalf of Ryan’s Centra argues the proposal represents “overdevelopment” of the site and if permitted it would have a “material negative impact on surrounding properties”.
The scale of the proposal is described as “significant” and “in excess” of what is required to meet local needs.
“This type of development has contributed to the demise of town centres through the country,” the appeal stated, urging the board to refuse planning permission.
Harnett Homes and Estate Developers, owners of a mixed-use development at O’Sullivan & Hansbury Motors Ashline in Ennis also objected.
They relayed “very serious concerns” about the impact of the proposed development on their tenants’ existing businesses, the future of their development and the impact the plans will have on the vitality and viability of the town centre.
The appeal outlined that the purpose of a neighbourhood centre “is to serve local needs” with ample local shops already in the area and “no demonstrable need at present for the scale of the development proposed”.
It contended that the proposal will “undermine the key anchor stores in the town” compromising town centre trade.
Mr Lohan previously told The Clare Champion he believes this part of Ennis is “underutilised” when it comes to providing a grocery offering.
“We think there is an opportunity there for a grocery to do well, and to do well for the local people in the neighbourhood. There have been a lot of new housing developments that have gone up in the Kilrush Road and the Kilmaley Road area that would all be local to Westpoint,” he added.
A decision on the appeal to An Bord Pleanala is due to be made by February of next year.

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