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No oral hearing for €34m retail plan

AN Bord Pleanála will not be holding an oral hearing to decide the fate of plans for a €34 million retail development on the outskirts of Ennis, despite calls from both those for and against the controversial project.
Developer’s Michael Lynch Limited and Ennis Chamber, which is opposed to the plans, had urged An Bord Pleanála to consider the planning appeal at an oral hearing. However, the appeals board has rejected the requests.
In appealing the refusal of planning permission by Ennis Town Council, Michael Lynch Ltd requested the hearing to outline to the board, interested third parties, the planning authority and the applicant, the “technical solutions” available to resolve engineering issues raised by the planning authority in their decision to refuse permission.
Ennis Chamber insisted that members of the public should have their say on the plans at an oral hearing, describing the issues involved as “complex and of significant public interest”.
However, in a letter to Ennis Town Council, which originally turned down the planning application for the retail centre, An Bord Pleanála stated, “The board have considered the request and in accordance with section 134(3) of the Planning and Development Act 2000, it has decided to determine the appeal without an oral hearing.”
It goes on to state, “The board has concluded that the appeal can be dealt with adequately through written procedures. The board has absolute discretion to hold an oral hearing and generally holds one where this will help its understanding of a particularly complex case or where it considers that, in a case involving significant national or local issues, the written submissions need to be supplemented by an oral hearing of the issues.”
Processing of the appeal will now continue, with the decision of the board due to be made in June.
Ennis Town Council refused planning permission for the development on a site at the Limerick Road/Tobarteascain Road in January, deeming it “premature” pending the upgrade of the wastewater treatment plant at Clareabbey and the implementation of the Ennis South Flood Relief Scheme.
According to Michael Lynch Ltd, if given the green light, the development would create approximately 300 jobs and between 180 and 200 jobs in the foodstore.
However, those opposed to the plans have expressed fears that it could lead to a ‘doughnut’ effect, taking business from the town centre in a similar way to what has been seen in Limerick.


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