Wednesday 6 February 2008

Council backs €275m mixed-use project at Portlaoise GAA club

A €275 million retail, residential and leisure development for Portlaoise GAA club grounds has been granted planning permission by Laois County Council.

A shopping centre, cinema, office block, bars, restaurants and apartment scheme will be built on the 18-acre site beside O'Moore Park on the fringes of the town.

The club struck a deal to sell the facility to Cork-based firm Firestone Developments for a record €19 million last year. The contract will be finalised in four weeks' time when the the date for appeals to An Bord Pleanála has been passed, according to John Hanniffy, chairman of the club's relocation committee.

Firestone intends to build a shopping centre with 12 retail units and a large foodstore, restaurants, a bar, creche and medical centre. A seven-storey office block, two own-door office blocks, 52 apartments and 1,350 parking spaces will be provided at the scheme, which is expected to take five years to build.

The club has already secured planning permission to develop a €10 million sporting facility for its 400 members on a site at Rathleague, a mile away. It intends to build six full-sized playing pitches, including an astroturf pitch, spectator stands, a fitness centre, lounge and restaurant.

The project is being watched closely by other GAA clubs which are reported to be considering cashing in on their well-placed pitches. While other GAA clubs, including Nemo Rangers and Mallow, have in the past sold or swapped their pitches, this is the first time that a GAA pitch is to be redeveloped as a mixed-use scheme rather than a solely residential development.

The Irish Times

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