A DELAY in hearing a planning appeal lodged last October by developers of the Castletroy Shopping Centre is “symptomatic of an inefficient planning system.”
That’s according to Social Democrats local election candidate Sarah Jane Hennelly who was reacting to a one-month deferral of an appeal against Limerick City and County Council’s rejection of a plan to add 17 new units to the shopping centre.
Ms Hennelly, who is running in the Limerick City East district, said that the plan was rejected by the council “on some questionable grounds.
“The appeal has now been delayed by An Bord Pleanala because of a backlog in the system.
“Anyone who lives in Castletroy knows how nice it is to have the centre there, the convenience and the community feel around the place. It’s worth building on. The city centre was on its knees long before the Castletroy Shopping Centre was built. There is no causal link between the two,” she claimed.
“There must be serious doubt that progress can be made in rebuilding the city centre if they are so concerned about expansion in Castletroy. Blocking development doesn’t mean progress is being made.”
“As a local candidate and resident of Castletroy, I believe adding to the centre is a good thing not just for the people of Castletroy but the region as a whole,” she told the Limerick Post.
The council’s refusal was based on concerns that the expanded shopping centre would have a negative effect on city centre trade. Castletroy is projected to have a population of 24,000 by 2022 while the local area plan designates the shopping mall as a district centre.
The planning application by developers Urban Green stated that the extension could support an extra 300 jobs locally.
In its appeal, the company is challenging the council’s refusal partly on the basis that the authority relied on out-of-date regulations limiting the size of shopping malls.
Planning laws oblige An Bord Pleanála to decide such appeals within 18 weeks, otherwise it must inform the parties in writing. The board has written to Urban Green notifying them that there would be a delay in deciding the company’s appeal due to the necessity to clear the current backlog of cases”.
The letter added that it would rule on the appeal on March 12 or before if possible.
by Rebecca MacMahon