Tuesday 28 June 2011

Green light for €460m 'Las Vegas' complex

AN BORD Pleanála has given the go-ahead for the construction of a €460 million “Las Vegas-style” sports and leisure complex in Co Tipperary.

The 800-acre Tipperary Venue, close to the village of Two-Mile-Borris, will include a 500-bedroom five-star hotel; a 6,000sq m casino; an all-weather racecourse; a greyhound track and a golf course.

The site, which is located off the M8 Dublin-Cork motorway, will also feature a full-size replica of the White House in Washington which will be used as “a banqueting facility” and to host wedding receptions.

Planning permission for a 15,000-capacity underground entertainment centre was refused by An Bord Pleanála as it was deemed “inappropriate” given the location.

North Tipperary County Council granted planning permission for the project last year but the case was appealed by some local residents and An Taisce.

Concerns included the level of traffic which would be generated by the venue, along with noise, carbon emissions, helicopter use, its distance from public transport and the sustainability of such a large-scale development.

An estimated 1,000 jobs will be created during the construction phase of the facility which is expected to take three years. Between 1,350 and 2,000 additional full-time positions are expected once the complex is completed.

The Tipperary Venue is the brainchild of developer Richard Quirke, a former garda from Thurles who is best known for running Dr Quirkey’s Good Time Emporium gaming arcade on Dublin’s O’Connell Street.

Mr Quirke issued a short statement: “I welcome this decision by An Bord Pleanála to grant permission for the Tipperary Venue project which advances the implementation of my vision and ambition for this site,” he said.

“I have instructed my design team and management to proceed to the next appropriate stages of the development.”

The venture has received support from the Coolmore Stud, Horse Sport Ireland, Bord na gCon, Shannon Development and Thurles Chamber of Commerce.

Planning permission is granted subject to 32 conditions which include an archaeological appraisal, details of noise monitoring and mitigation measures, and the carrying out of road safety procedures.

The developer is also required to make a financial contribution towards public infrastructure and facilities associated with the project.

The project is also still dependent on the Oireachtas passing proposed new legislation to enable the opening of casinos.

A consultation paper on legislative options for the gambling sector was published last December by then minister for justice Dermot Ahern.

The paper outlined a framework for licensing and regulating small-scale casinos which operate as members’ clubs and included a proposal to allow a “resort” casino similar to that proposed by the Tipperary Venue developers.

The report indicated support for a casino with multiple gaming tables with between 1,000 and 1,500 slot machines. It added it would not be desirable to allow more than one such large-scale resort.

Irish Times


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