No go for Longford town centre redevelopment

The promoters of the two-pronged €65m Longford Town re-development project, which was proposed last year, have confirmed that they will not be moving forward with their town centre re-development plans.

The promoters of the two-pronged €65m Longford Town re-development project, which was proposed last year, have confirmed that they will not be moving forward with their town centre re-development plans.

Soden Ward Ltd had proposed a redevelopment project consisting of two "interdependent" sections.

The first development concerned the town centre and the redevelopment of the existing Longford Shopping Centre and surrounding area. Planning permission was granted for this redevelopment but was subject to 20 strict planning conditions including the submission of details regarding materials, finishes and noise restriction guidelines to Longford County Council.

The second section was the development of an out of town shopping facility at the Ballinalee Road. This was rejected by An Bord Pleanala just before Christmas as it was believed it would have a negative impact on the town centre to "an unacceptable level."

The state planning authority referred to issues such as scale, proximity to Longford Town and availability of alternative sites as key reasons in its decision. It was believed that Tesco Ireland was proposed to be the tenant for the Ballinalee Road development.

In a statement recently released to the media, Soden Ward confirmed that they would not be proceeding with their town centre re-development plans, stating that the two sections of the overall redevelopment project were "interdependent".

Furthermore, the company stated that the rejection by An Bord Pleanla of the Ballinalee road development had undermined the commercial viability and feasibility of the proposed project.

"The two developments proposed were integrated and interdependent, one could not proceed without the other," said a spokesperson for Soden Ward. "Had planning approvals been granted, the promoters intended that work on the development would have begun this spring.

"The team was in place and a great deal of preparatory work had been completed to get the project underway, it was ready to go. Unfortunately, despite the fact that the development scheme proposed would have been of great benefit to Longford and despite the good work done by all those who contributed to the development of the project plan, the project unfortunately cannot now proceed as had been hoped for."

The promoters also stated that the investment could have created at least 600 sustainable new jobs in the town.

The spokesperson continued; "Longford Town is badly in need of development and jobs. The proposals put forward by Soden Ward had been developed over years of study and planning which could have made Longford town an attractive shopping destination and brought substantial regeneration, jobs and new investment to the town".