PERMISSION HAS been granted for one of the most ambitious development projects ever in Tralee, Co Kerry, involving a new shopping centre on the GAA grounds and the building of a new GAA stadium on the racecourse near the town.
An Bord Pleanála has authorised the conversion of the Austin Stack GAA ground in Tralee to a multi-storey shopping centre and granted permission for a new GAA stadium on the Ballybeggan racecourse on the outskirts of the town.
The plan, estimated at costing €100 million by local developers Séamus O’Halloran and John Casey, involved several organisations including two local authorities, Tralee Town Council, as well as the county council, the GAA and the local race company. It met with resistance from racegoers as well as town traders.
Tralee Town Council had granted permission to John Casey Project Management for the mixed-use town centre development of Austin Stack Park, but this was immediately appealed to An Bord Pleanála.
Kerry County Council had also given the go-ahead for a GAA stadium at Ballybeggan racecourse to the management company and this too had been appealed.
Yesterday the board – which held an oral hearing in Tralee into the Austin Stack development – ruled that the 38,821sq m development of the Stacks and nearby John Mitchells GAA club would not harm the town centre.
The board also noted the proximity of public transport facilities, including Tralee bus and railway stations, to the development.
In the case of Ballybeggan, it said the GAA stadium with full-size pitch and terracing and stands to accommodate 15,000 people was in accordance with the historical and long-established use of Ballybeggan as a recreational and sports facility and amenity use.
Sinn Féin said €43 million would be injected into the local economy and this would be “a lifeline to Tralee and Kerry”.
Town councillors Cathal Foley and Toiréasa Ferris said that up to 1,500 medium- and long-term jobs would be created “at a time of deep economic gloom”.