A PLANNING decision on a proposed €20 million development by Lidl Ireland in Ennis has been put on hold with further information being sought from the developers.
Clare County Council raised a number of concerns about the proposed development including its potential “adverse impact” on the town centre.
The further information request means the decision process will be paused until a response is received within six months.
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, which, if given the go-ahead, will include 20 residential apartments, a café and two commercial units.
According to the discount supermarket giant if given the green light the development will create 30 local jobs along with 100 more during construction.
In the further information request the planning authority acknowledged that the proposal is largely in response to the zoning objectives of the site.
It stated however, “Having regard to the planning history of the site, concerns are expressed that the proposal in conjunction with other out of town facilities may have an adverse impact on the vitality and viability of the town centre, in particular by reference to provision of smaller retail units.”
The council noted that a similar commercial development by Aldi is currently awaiting a decision from An Bord Pleanala.
The developers have been asked for a revised Retail Impact Assessment to be submitted which includes the Aldi development and that the “cumulative impact on the vitality and viability on Ennis town centre” be considered.
The planning authority also pointed out that the development lands are zoned commercial and under the zoning matrix multiple residential units are not normally permitted.
The County Development Plan states where something is ‘not normally permitted’ the proposed use will not normally be favourably considered except in exceptional circumstances.
The developers have been asked to outline the ‘exceptional circumstances’ under which the application falls.
The inclusion of a “significant element” of residential units on a commercial zoned site has raised concern regarding compliance with the site specific zoning objective which requires that a neighbourhood centre is ‘anchored and physically integrated’ with the retail unit.
The developers have been invited to submit comments and proposals to address this and requested to indicate if other commercial uses e.g. offices, hotels, were considered as part of the overall development of the site.
Issues with the design and massing of the buildings, in particular the northern elevation onto the Toberteascain Road have also been highlighted.
The planning authority has also sought proposals to address a potential “adverse impact” on visual amenities by planned totem signage.
Lidl has been asked to confirm all recommendations in the Road Safety Audit have been incorporated into the layout.
The planning authority outlined that infrastructural provisions will be required to facilitate the proposed development.
These are: replacement of the roundabout at the junction of the Limerick Road and Toberteascain Road with a signalised junction; provision of a pedestrian crossing near the entrance to the Dun na Ri housing development and provision of a cycle lane at the junction of the Limerick Road and the Toberteascain Road for 125 metres.
The applicants have been asked to provide a revised layout, RSA, Traffic and Transport Assessment “which demonstrates that the proposed development would not result in a traffic hazard with the aforementioned infrastructural provisions in situ”.
The council also advised that if planning permission is granted special development contributions for the infrastructural provisions “may be required”.
Other items addressed in the further information request is the consideration of age friendly parking and more family friendly spaces as well as proposals for the management of residential parking and the need for a demolition management plan, construction environmental management plan and construction traffic management plan.
The Retail Grocery Dairy & Allied Trades Association RGDATA has already lodged an objection to the plans arguing it is “particularly concerned with the planning implications of such a large scale retail development at this ‘out-of-town’ location o 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.
A local resident has also objected to the plans saying they have “serious safety concerns” given the proximity of their home to the position of the proposed entrance to the development.
Among a number of objections he argued that the plans will result in increased traffic on an already busy road.