Wednesday 11 March 2009

Council takes action against TK Maxx store over planning contravention

WATERFORD County Council has commenced enforcement proceedings against a TK Maxx outlet in Waterford after An Bord Pleanála found it had contravened planning laws.

The board, in a ruling issued last week, found that TK Maxx at the Butlerstown Retail Park did not have permission to sell items such as clothes, toys and shoes because they do not meet a "bulky goods" classification.

Sixty jobs at the store are now under threat, it is feared.

An Bord Pleanála investigated the sale of items at TK Maxx, following a complaint by local developer Noel Frisby, a director of Noel Frisby Construction Ltd who has interests in the Lisduggan Shopping Centre.

The board ruled that TK Maxx, along with a Mothercare outlet that was due to open at the park, contravened planning laws, as outlets at the park can only sell items that are deemed to be "bulky".

A spokeswoman for TK Maxx yesterday said: "We are extremely disappointed by this ruling. It is a very complex situation and we are currently working to find a resolution that will be in the very best interests of our store associates and our customers in Waterford."

Director of services at Waterford County Council, Brian White, said that the council had deemed Mothercare to be within the bulky goods classification.

"We are certainly working out the options with them and are trying to reach some conclusion that will save [those] jobs."

Mr White said the options that are there for TK Maxx were to "defend the case against them in court, to apply for planning permission for retention, or to look for some alternative solution".

However, Waterford’s county councillors expressed anger at the monthly meeting of the local authority on Monday evening and passed a motion of no confidence in An Bord Pleanála.

Waterford county councillor Pat Daly said: "One job is a lot to lose at the moment, but if we can protect, in any way, sixty jobs, it is the duty of all of us here to do it."

The Mayor of Co Waterford Tom Higgins criticised Mr Frisby at the meeting. He asked Mr White: "It is a bit rich, a Kilkenny man coming in, telling us what to do, isn’t it?"

Mr White replied: "Mayor, with respect, any member of the public has a right to insist that the planning regulations are enforced."

Proposals to rezone the land were considered unlikely to succeed.

Cllr John Carey added: "I have the utmost respect for Waterford planning and I think it is high time now that we called for disbanding of An Bord Pleanála because they’re certainly not doing us any favours."

In response Cllr Damian Geoghan said: "If we go along with the proposals [for a vote of no confidence] today, what we are saying is that there should be no appeals process in this country in relation to planning."

A spokesman with An Bord Pleanála yesterday confirmed that it "ruled that TK Maxx does not have the correct planning permission for what it is proposing".

Irish Examiner

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