OPPOSITION to plans for a massive retail development on the outskirts of Ennis has been shown by local residents, individual businesses, traders’ associations and An Taisce.
Planning permission is being sought by Michael Lynch Ltd for a retail development on more than five hectares of land at the Limerick Road and Tobarteascain Road. The developers say the plan will create 500 jobs. An application for a similar facility was refused planning permission on the site in 2006 by An Bord Pleanála following appeals by local residents.
A number of submissions have been received by the planning authority of Ennis Town Council in relation to the current development.
As well as residents living in the area, there are submissions from local business people based at the Ennis Shopping Centre as well as organisations including the O’Connell Street Traders’ Association, Ennis Chamber and RGDATA, the Retail Grocery Dairy and Allied Trades’ Association and An Taisce.
The O’Connell Street Traders’ Association, in their observation, outlined that the proposed development “would have a significantly detrimental effect on the existing businesses in Ennis Town Centre leading to job losses and possible closures”.
They pointed out, “An ample supply of unoccupied retail floor space already exists in and around the town centre”. The association added that the proposed development would also have a “seriously detrimental effect on the businesses in the immediate surrounding area of Limerick Road, Tobarteascain etc”.
According to Ennis Chamber, “Real concern has been expressed primarily in relation to the location and scale of the proposed development”.
“Ennis Chamber supports the further development and creation of jobs in Ennis; however, such projects must work with the current retail and commercial structure within the town,” the observation continues.
The chamber suggested that rather than a new development at the proposed site, that the Ennis Shopping Centre, where Tesco is the anchor tenant, needs to be upgraded. They also suggested a retail development be created on the site of the current Ennis National School which is set to move to a new location.
The chamber warned, “We have seen examples of other towns and cities around the country of where outside developments have resulted in the deterioration of the core centre including Limerick, Sligo, Nenagh and Tralee to name but a few”.
The chamber concluded that, “The proposed development on the Limerick Road is out of town and does not support the strategy of integrating any new projects with the existing retail area as close as possible to the centre and edge of centre.”
RGDATA, which represents independent family grocers in Ireland, objected to the plan stating that the newly proposed development does not address some of the refusal reasons attached to the previous application.
The association raised concerns that the proposed development would have an “adverse impact” on the “vitality and viability of the existing retail core of Ennis”.
They argued that customers who shop in a large supermarket of the scale of the proposed development “will do a one-stop shop by car and will have no requirement to shop in Ennis town itself”.
An Taisce raised concerns about the effects of the recession on the proposed development. “Although the site is zoned for retail and associated parking, the Ennis and Environs plan was passed before the full effect of the recession has taken place and since, there has been a new retail assessment made for the county taking this recession into account.”
They went on, “Unless there has been a direct offer for an existing anchor supermarket to wish to move to this site from an existing site within Ennis Town, there is no reason why yet another shopping retail centre should be built”.
An Taisce stated, “There is no demand for further retail development,” and that there is firstly a need to fill newly built and old standing retail developments “before building yet another ghost development”.
A decision on the development is set to be made by the planning authority later this month.