Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Roscrea development is ‘environmental vandalism’, local group claims

A newly formed local group has filed an appeal to An Bord Pleanála over Roscrea’s Tesco development, which it claims represents “environmental vandalism on a grand scale”.
Built by Tiernan Properties at a cost of around €20 million, Roscrea’s new Tesco was opened amid much fanfare last summer. The supermarket replaced the old Tesco store at Roscrea Shopping Centre, which was only half the size of the current complex, and created an additional 43 jobs, bringing the full staff cohort up to around 90.
However, recently formed group ‘Planning Roscrea’s Future’ describes the new Tesco as incongruous to the location’s historic context, and claims key aspects of the development plan have not been addressed.
The group has lodged an appeal against Tiernan Properties’ planning application to amend part of the development previously granted by An Bord Pleanála. North Tipperary Co Council has granted conditional permission to the applicant.
Planning Roscrea’s Future claims the developer is seeking to remove a permitted restaurant from its stipulated location, where it was to have a vital role in integrating the development with a community plaza.
The group is appealing that, “given the vast overdevelopment already on site, no further buildings should be erected, and specifically not on the site of the now demolished Tower Restaurant”.
Group spokesman Peter Madden pointed out that An Bord Pleanála’s inspector recommended refusing permission for the development in the original application, arising largely from concerns over visual impact.•
“The board for whatever reason did not accept the inspector’s recommendation,” he said.
“They may have felt that there was a net gain for the town. What has transpired on site differs greatly from the original vision. The most gifted sophist could not convince that the development as constructed is consistent with good planning for this sensitive and key area in the heart of our heritage town.”
As part of its appeal, Planning Roscrea’s Future wants the board to now consider the impact of the Tesco development on “priceless heritage treasures at the heart of our town”, including Saint Cronan’s monastery and graveyard, Church of Ireland, Round Tower, twelfth century Celtic Cross, and nearby mill site.
The group also wants to draw the board’s attention to several issues it says “are at variance to the vision that was originally proposed by the developer for the town”, including the omission of shops/retail frontage on Lourdes Road. Expectations of reinstating the mill race, pond and millwheel have not been met, nor have a proposed waterfall feature and “millennium gardens”, the group claims.
It describes the public plaza as a “forlorn shadow of the vision at the outset and is a sick joke… a space so sterile and unwelcoming that even the ‘winos’ won’t hang out there – it’s too inhospitable”.
Mr Madden said the development has also resulted in loss of community-owned space.
“I’ve met no one who knew that this was going to happen or how or why it happened,” he said.
“It is our fault as a community for not being on top of the planning case, but I guess we all thought that the various authorities would adequately look after the public interest. Sadly, we were mistaken in this instance.”
The Planning Roscrea’s Future appeal has been accepted for consideration by An Bord Pleanála, which is to make its ruling on the case in July. The group is calling on similarly concerned people to make submissions in support of its appeal, and says it will facilitate the compilation of all submissions as one so that individuals may avoid the €50 fee that applies to each submission.
“I am saddened and angered that we have arrived at this dreadful situation,” Mr Madden said.
“We the people of the town, and we know we speak for the majority of the community, feel we have been grievously wronged by the developments to date. We urge those with the authority to do all that is possible and to contribute all that they can to create the most favourable outcome possible to this appalling environmental situation for Roscrea town and our community.”
Submissions can be dropped in to 2 Main Street Roscrea ahead of a deadline of Tuesday April 10. Contact 086-8142951 for further information.
Caption: Planning Roscrea’s Future says the new Tesco development does not fit in with the town’s historic context.

Read the article @ The Nenagh Guardian

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