Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Tralee retail park development refused by one vote

Donal Hickey in The Examiner tells us that a RETAIL park for Tralee has been turned down by Kerry County Council.
The decision was made yesterday after councillors heard businesses in the county town were being hit by a growing number of out-of-town shopping facilities.
The proposed development had been earmarked for a 13.5-acre site on the southern side of the town.
However, it took the casting vote of mayor Ted Fitzgerald, also a Tralee town councillor, to defeat the proposed rezoning, following a 12-12 tie.
As a compromise, the 13.5 acres is to be rezoned from open space to retail /warehousing on a phased basis, subject to the building of a southern ring road and as part of an overall master plan for that area of Tralee.
Earlier, the council agreed to rezone land close to the current Manor West retail park to “mixed use” so as to allow for both large-scale retail developments and residential use.
But several Tralee-based councillors later came out strongly against proposal to rezone the Manor East site, as requested by Damien Smith and Michael Daly.
Fine Gael councillor Bobby O’Connell, who proposed the rezoning, rejected suggestions it would add to traffic problems and claimed it would enhance Tralee as a regional retail destination.
Former town mayor Terry O’Brien said the town council was fighting hard to keep Tralee town centre “alive” and warned that further damage would be done to business in the town, if more retail units were allowed on the outskirts.
“We may as well put up a for sale sign in the town centre if this rezoning goes through,” said the Labour Party’s Cllr O’Brien.
He added that he supported a phased development of the land.
“How can we put the rates on people and come on a few weeks after and bring in retail park a mile from the town centre?” he asked.
Cllr Norma Foley of Fine Fáil said the council would always have to ensure that any development would not have a negative impact on the town centre. “The town centre will always be the heartbeat of the town,” she remarked.
The issue arose in the course of a debate on submissions to a strategy for the development of Tralee /Killarney hub.
County manager Martin Riordan said there was no real case for rezoning the 13.5 acres which were separate from, but close to, the existing Manor West retail park.
“What may seem like a very easy decision will be like a dog’s dinner in terms of the overall environment of Tralee and could affect the potential of the business park to take off in the future. It would be a premature decision,” he said.

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