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Councillor Gerry Flynn. Photograph by John Kelly.

Widespread anger about Shannon masterplan claims councillor

LAST week’s meeting of Shannon Municipal District heard criticism of the new draft masterplan for Shannon Town Centre, and a request that the deadline for submissions on it be extended.

Very close to the outset of the meeting independent Councillor Gerry Flynn made the call for the time for submissions to be extended. He said that just the previous day the county development plan had been pushed back for seven months, because there hadn’t been adequate consultation due to Covid-19.

Putting the deadline back for the Shannon masterplan is necessary, he said, with local people unhappy about the level of consultation. “There is widespread anger in the community because they haven’t had proper engagement.”

After Jason Murphy of the Council’s executive said he would run the request by Brian McCarthy of the Council’s planning section, Councillor Flynn said this would not be adequate. “This is something for the Chief Executive to decide on.”

Councillor Flynn said he had put forward a lot of ideas, none of which were included in the draft. He also said that putting the deadline back was “a matter of courtesy to the public” and he said there had been no Town Hall meetings or public meetings.

The independent councillor also said that the plan proposes taking away a significant portion of the town park, for residential development.

After clarifying that it is up to the Council to decide when the deadline is rather than any other authority, Councillor Michael Begley said the request from Councillor Flynn should be complied with.

During further discussion on the plan, Mr Murphy said that there has been a lot of engagement online with the plan. “The public are engaging and a variety of views are coming in,” he added.

He said that some of the components of the plan include the development of a street on the R471 road, increased retail and residential areas and the creation of the Shannon Hub, a civic space at the centre of the town.

Councillor Flynn responded by saying that the plan is very disappointing and he said there had been more engagement with other ‘stakeholders’ than with the public or elected representatives. He said that by the time they were spoken to the plan had already been written and they were told “you can like it or lump it.”

The independent councillor said that 20 years earlier he had been involved in a group that had sought to stop the County Council taking away Shannon Town Park. Now, he said there is another move to take away “a good scelp” of the current Park something which he described as disgraceful.

He also criticised a proposal to remove a local roundabout under the plan, which he said would be bad for the town.

He further slammed the Council’s recent decision to deny planning for an Aldi store, something he said “would have brought thousands of people into Shannon”.

One thing he said he would support would be getting new property to further develop a civic presence in the middle of Shannon, but overall he said it is “a disgraceful plan”.

Councillor Donna McGettigan said that people have found it hard to read the plan properly, and there are aspects that they both agree and disagree with.

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.