LIMERICK suffered another blow on the jobs front yesterday as it emerged that planning permission has been refused for a huge retail project with the potential to employ more than 800.
A plan to extend Coonagh Cross Shopping Centre at Ennis Road by more than 17,000 square metres has been knocked as the city faces up to 800 job losses at Dell and Flextronics.
Refusing planning, Limerick City Council said the proposed development would contravene the Limerick city centre strategy and create a traffic hazard.
Sean O’Sullivan of Chieftain Construction who have built the centre said: “We are dead in the water without this extension. We cannot lease or open the current built facility without positive planning for the West Mall. The retailers won’t operate in the as-built centre as it isn’t viable and does not have the critical mass to make it viable. No additional investment will be allowed by our banks and no jobs will be created without positive planning for the West Mall. That is a €150 million investment and development on the northside of Limerick permanently shelved.”
Chieftain estimate that 800 permanent jobs would have been created at Coonagh Cross and a further 1,000 would have been indirectly employed, had the project been given the go-ahead.
Cllr Kevin Kiely said he was at a loss as to why planning was refused for the West Mall extension.
He said: “We don’t halve a facility like the Crescent or Parkway shopping centres on the northside of the city. Because there’s only one tenant out there at the moment, Tesco, not as many people are going there as you’d like, but the owners were in negotiation with a second anchor tenant. They can’t offer them the same deal now that planning permission has been refused.
“I understand the council want to protect the city centre retailers, but developments like the Opera Centre and Arthur’s Quay are four or five years down the road.
“This is a greenfield site with parking and would have served somewhere in the region of 18,000 people.”