One half of a major retail planning development earmarked for Longford town has been turned down by An Bord Pleanala.
Senior executives behind the state planning authority refused permission for a large scale shopping centre on the Ballinalee Road on the outskirts of Longford town, pointing out that the centre would have a negative impact on the town centre to an "unacceptable degree".
The scale of the development, spanning almost 11,000 sq metres, its close proximity to Longford town, the availability of alternative sites within the town, as well as its location in relation to both the N4 and N5 was "contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area" if allowed to proceed, the board stated this week. It is believed that Tesco Ireland was due to be the tenant for the proposed development at the Ballinalee Road.
However, planning for the redevelopment of the Longford Shopping Centre and surrounding area was granted approval, subject to almost 20 strict planning conditions.
Developers, Soden Ward Ltd, are required to submit details relating to building materials and external finishes planned for the site to Longford County Council. They must comply noise restriction guidelines.
As the plan was deemed a twin track development, there were questions as to whether or not the Longford town development will proceed without the Ballinalee Road development also coming on stream.
However, a spokesperson for An Bord Pleanala indicated that subsequent applications could be made by the developer in a bid to address reasons for the board's decision to refuse planning.
"As of now, all the developer can do is what he has been given permission for," said a spokesperson last night.
The Longford Leader tried to contact a spokesperson for Soden Ward but at the time of going to press, contact had not been made.
Plans for the development were originally given the go-ahead by Longford Co Council in January.
Speaking to the Leader yesterday one of the objectors to the development Seamus Butler , President of Longford Chamber of Commerce, expressed his satisifaction at the news.
"I think we have been vindicated as it (planning report for Ballinalee Road development) said an out of town development would affect the vitality of the town centre," he said.
Mr Butler and the Chamber of Commerce was one of four organisations to lodge appeals with An Bord Pleanala for the proposed Longford town development.
The other objectors named on the planning file were: Luke Baxter, Jimmy Savage, Sean Savage and Patricia Devine.