ANOTHER BLOW FOR FERMOY
Cork County Council has refused planning permission for a €100 million retail and leisure development in Fermoy.
The proposal, by Ballyjamesduff Properties, would have paved the way for over 6,000 square metres of retail space including 23 retail and two anchor units, one of which was believed to have been earmarked for Dunnes Stores.
The development also promised a parkland, civic plaza, 5 screen cinema and 650 car parking spaces on the 12 acre site, bordered by the River Blackwater to the north and Lidl and Toss Bryan stores to the south.
When asked if the company planned to appeal the decision to An Bord Pleanala, a spokesman for Ballyjamesduff Properties said the group are reviewing the decision to refuse the development and at present have no comment.
The decision comes three weeks after another €100 million development on the town’s mart site was also refused planning by Fermoy Town Council. That refusal came despite efforts by the Shipton Group, who bought the mart site for €22.5 million, and re-submitted their application following consultation with town planners.
There has been varying reaction to the refusal from public representatives, many of who are anxious for the future of the town. Mayor of Fermoy Tadhg O’Donovan said that he was “despondent” at the decision.
“Taking this decision by the county planners and the town planners’ stance on Shipton it is obvious to all that a siege mentality is prevalent as far as Fermoy is concerned,” Mayor O’Donovan told The Avondhu.
“Despite the fact that the town is crying out for major investment in retail and that we have developers willing to provide this infrastructure the planners seem determined to prevent the sort of development we have seen in every town within a 20 mile radius of Fermoy, yet for some reason not known in the town itself.”
There was further disappointment amongst local officials at all levels. “Ballyjamesduff is yet another planning decision that has gone against Fermoy. I recently spoke with assistant county manager Tim Lucey to prevail upon him the need for a town like Fermoy to strike a balance between existing and new businesses,” Cork East TD Sean Sherlock said this week.
“This is another blow and my contention is that scope must be found to meet with these prospective investors. There is a need for retail development and small business development in Fermoy and we need to do all we can to influence that positively,” the Labour TD added.
Councillor Aileen Pyne, a member of both Cork County Council and Fermoy Town Council said that she was ‘again disappointed’ by the decision. “I had hoped that with the mix of parkland, leisure and retail aspects of this project would get planning. I am very very disappointed for Fermoy, this is another blow for the town following on from the Shipton Development decision.”
Her Fine Gael County Council colleague Liam O’Doherty said that he feared the leakage of commerce from Fermoy to Cork city, Mahon and Mitchelstown if there is no significant retail investment in the town in the near future.
“With all that is going on with the hotel, and with these development opportunities turned down I worry that Fermoy is going nowhere,” Cllr O’Doherty said. Fianna Fail County Councillor Frank O’Flynn said that he is now concerned about the message the two high profile rejections sends to developers.
“I would be worried that Fermoy would get a reputation or would seen to be a difficult town to get planning. The recent developments surrounding the proposed hotel for the town add to this. Fermoy and North Cork needs a high quality hotel.
" With regards to this development I would hope that Ballyjamesduff Properties would come back to the Council, revise their plans and iron out any difficulties in giving this the green light.” Cllr O’Flynn added that the people of Fermoy openly welcomed the development, with parents particularly pleased with the inclusion of the five-screen cinema in its plans.
However, Fianna Fail Councillor Kevin O’Keeffe believes the decision is an indication that Fermoy Town Council needs to address the issue of proper development in the town, and believes that the refusal offers the town council an opportunity to reassess the Shipton Group development.
“In fairness to Cork County Council given that there is a major proposal in the town of Fermoy, it has given the town council a chance get their house in order. The town of Fermoy is not in a position to take two major retail developments. T
hey must think of the existing traders in Fermoy on the street so that any development that goes ahead in Fermoy would also facilitate their development and that we will see the development of long term jobs as opposed to short term employment,” Cllr O’Keeffe said.
Mayor O’Donovan disagrees with the argument that both developments would not be feasible for a town the size of Fermoy. “Considering the recent survey by the Goodbody Group in seeking out what is the way forward for Fermoy, one of the primary recommendations was a substantial investment in retail.
"The planners have totally ignored this and the wishes of 95% of the Fermoy people. I will appeal to both Ballyjamesduff and Shipton to appeal these decisions to An Bord Pleanala as 95% of the people want them here,” he said.
Thursday 16th October 6:36pm