A planning application for the complex by Castleisland businessman Tony Walsh has been turned down by Kerry County Council, but councillors are continuing to support his efforts to get the green light.
Kerry mayor Bobby O’Connell, who lives in Castleisland, said his hometown had received very little from the Government or the IDA, and a shopping development would help create much-needed employment.
"It is believed about 60% of shopping business from Castleisland is being haemorrhaged to Tralee. That’s a huge loss to Castleisland and can’t be allowed continue," he said.
The issue was raised at this week’s county council meeting by Independent councillor Brendan Cronin who proposed a 3.2-acre site at Tralee Road, Castleisland, be rezoned from industrial to retail in order to facilitate Mr Walsh’s development.
Mr Cronin said the council had set a precedent for retail development on two sites directly across the road from the site.
"I believe this site [Mr Walsh’s] is ideally located. It is close to the town centre and is inside the route of the new bypass. There’s a huge need in Castleisland for this type of development," he added.
However, senior planning engineer Tom Sheehy said the Castleisland local area plan (LAP) was under review and it would be inappropriate to consider individual rezoning proposals in isolation from the overall strategy for the town. "It would not be the best procedure to have a proposal to vary the zoning going on at the same time as a review of the plan. It would not make sense," he stated.
Mr Sheehy also said there were three alternative sites that might be more appropriate for retail development in Castleisland and would make it more competitive for retailers to come in.
Mr Sheehy also suggested it would be in Mr Walsh’s best interests to have rezoning application considered as part of the LAP review rather than as a motion before the council. After some councillors consulted with Mr Walsh, it was agreed to include the rezoning proposal in the review of the Castleisland LAP which has gone on public display in the town this week.
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