Planning appeal deals blow to Omniplex plans to redevelop vacant Longford Shopping Centre

An Bord Pleanála appeal casts doubt over cinema giant's ambitious proposals

Liam Cosgrove


Liam Cosgrove


Longford town shopping centre

Cinema giants Omniplex are hoping to turn the vacant 80,000 sq ft premises into a six screen cinema complex while also demolishing the town's existing movie theatre to create a plaza style entrance.

Plans by Ireland's largest multiplex cinema chain to turn Longford's vacant shopping centre into a state of the art cinema and entertainment hub have been dealt a blow after an appeal over its planning approval was lodged with An Bord Pleanála.

The State's independent planning authority was handed a four page objection to Longford County Council's decision to grant Omniplex approval to the plans by local architect Liam Madden, on behalf of his client Vincent Casey in recent days.

Longford County Council gave the go ahead last month for the cinema firms plans to change the use of the shopping centre, now known as Riverside Shopping Centre, to a cinema with six screens.

ALSO READ: Omniplex chiefs plan to demolish Longford cinema to create plaza entrance to new multi million euro Riverside Shopping Centre

In the document, which has been seen by the Leader, Mr Madden claims Mr Casey owns property at Little Water Street, facing onto the site Omniplex are planning to redevelop.

Mr Madden goes on to detail how his client and local authority chiefs became embroiled in a brusque and lengthy legal exchange over a right of way dispute that ultimately culminated in alleged garda involvement.

A further observation noted by Mr Madden is the absence of a traffic impact assessment, a provision which is deemed mandatory in all such applications.

He also insists his client has no interest in selling off any of his property, contending that Mr Casey will "fight tooth and nail" to resist efforts by the local authority to set in motion any Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs).

A further claim by Mr Madden states Condition 2a of the plan's 'parent permission' has not been complied with.

"The Tower was required to have been re-modelled to have a conical appearance.

"What it has now is a comical appearance," noted Mr Madden.

He also asserts one of the factors which may have prompted the Council's decision to grant permission can be traced to the potentially lucrative outstanding financial charges which still remain on the building.

"The vehicular entrance at the corner junction of Bridge Street and Church Street is blind and perhaps the most dangerous junction in Ireland to have been approved by the planning authority whose sole ambition is to gather upwards of €1.5m, plus indexing, to send a batallion of councillors to the St Patrick's Day Parade in Nagasaki," Mr Madden added.

In his final summation, Mr Madden suggests the application was "hurriedly put together" in a move which has "led to flaws" in its final compilation.

Citing the lack of an Appropriate Assessment (AA), which he says is at "the heart of the matter", Mr Madden said:"The proposed development would, therefore be contrary to proper planning and sustainable development."