Thursday 21 August 2008

Council cites flood fears in refusal of planning approval for €50m retail park

CLARE COUNTY Council yesterday refused planning permission for a €50 million retail park on the outskirts of Ennis because the proposal is located on a floodplain.

In 2003, councillors voted to rezone the proposed development site "commercial" as part of the Ennis Development Plan, vastly increasing the value of the lands. Two years later the 48-acre site was purchased by Galway developer Stephen Harris for €18 million from local landowner JJ McCabe.

Clare councillor Brian Meaney (Green) yesterday questioned why the floodplain was zoned commercial in the first place. He said: "There may be even compensatory issues in relation to these matters as this large tract of land was bought on the basis of the rezoning."

In refusing planning permission to Mr Harris for the application, which was two years in the planning process, the council stated that the site is at risk of flooding due to the site being located on the Lower Fergus floodplain.

The council also refused planning permission due to the inability of the area's current sewerage infrastructure to deal with the development.

A flooding report commissioned by Clare County Council subsequent to the rezoning and completed earlier this year stated that the site comprises lands that are designated as a 100-year flood risk.

The lands will only be developed if the Government sanctions a €14 million flood defence scheme for the outskirts of Ennis.

However, the planner's report released yesterday stated: "Until such time as these works are completed, these lands remain as floodplain and at risk of flooding.

"Therefore, to permit development on lands currently functioning as floodplain would not be in the interests of sustainable development."

The Irish Times

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