LOW-COST SUPERMARKET chain Aldi has been granted permission to build a branch on the Portmarnock coast, opposite one of Dublin’s most popular beaches.
Fingal County Council this week granted permission for the supermarket in the grounds of the White Sands Hotel on the Strand Road opposite the Portmarnock Martello tower and beach, despite having received more than 50 objections to the plan.
The supermarket and off-licence development will have a 75-space car park, and will involve demolition of some hotel buildings.
Objections centred on the effect the development would have on one of Dublin’s best beaches known as the “velvet strand” and on the increase in traffic, particularly in summer months.
Local Portmarnock Labour Councillor Peter Coyle said he believed the decision was made in error based on a “colouring mistake” on the county development plan. Prior to 2005, the area was zoned as residential. However, this was seen as unfairly limiting to the hotel which had been on the site since the 1930s, Mr Coyle said.
To allow the hotel to build complementary facilities such as a leisure centre or a swimming pool, the councillors decided to include a provision in the 2005 development plan to give the hotel lands their own zoning. This zoning was included as a “local objective” to “retain the primary use of hotel on this site”. However, the colour used in the development plan map to indicate the new zoning was the same as that used to indicate suburban centre zoning.
Aldi “picked up on the colour”, Mr Coyle said and made their application on this basis. “The county manager should have intervened and it is very disappointing that he didn’t.”
Mr Coyle said he had appealed to county manager David O’Connor to become directly involved: “I am now going to appeal the council’s decision to An Bord Pleanála and I will seek an oral hearing.”
A spokeswoman for Fingal County Council said the council does not comment on individual planning applications or decisions.