Monday, 13 October 2008

Public backlash hits GAA park 'shops' plan

ALMOST 1,000 submissions have been made by people opposed to €350m plans to transform the GAA-owned Cusack Park into a major shopping quarter in Ennis.

Earlier this year, the GAA agreed to sell the 10-acre Cusack Park site for €86m to the Aisling Chiosoig Partnership that includes Dublin-based developer Bernard McNamara.

For the Riverside Quarter development at Cusack Park to proceed, the site needs to be rezoned from open space to commercial.

Yesterday, Clare County Council confirmed, as part of the drawing up of the new Ennis Development Plan, that it had received 955 letters from local individuals calling on the council not to rezone the site.

An identical letter signed by the 955 people stated that it is their fervent wish that the lands at Cusack Park not be rezoned and retained as they are for the benefit of the people.

Leading the campaign to prevent Cusack Park being rezoned is independent councillor Frankie Neylon, who claims that 82pc of Ennis businesses polled are also opposed to the shopping precinct proposal.

He said: "This is too important an issue for it to become used as a political football ahead of the local elections. This is the wrong place for a new shopping area and it will have too much of an impact on the residents of Park Row, Clonroad and Francis Street."

However, in a statement yesterday, the president of the Ennis Chamber of Commerce, Niall Garvey, insisted that the rezoning should proceed.

Mr Garvey said the decision to rezone "is a bold one but necessary if Ennis is to create jobs, enhance the retail offer and compete successfully with neighbouring towns".

The Aisling Chiosoig Partnership said that up to 1,000 jobs will be created when the project is completed, and about 500 jobs in construction.

Gordon Deegan
Irish Independent

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