THE controversial proposal to build a new Penneys store just off the main street in Naas has got the go ahead – but it was a close call.
An Bord Pleanala, the planning appeals authority, has approved the plan for the three storey development on the site of the Superquinn store which closed in February with the loss of over 100 jobs.
But the ABP board overruled the inspector who adjudicated on the appeal and who argued that the building was too large for the site.
The new plan envisages a building measuring 14.5m. in height (just over 47.5 feet); slightly smaller than the 15m. (just over 49 feet) building which was originally given the green light.
The appeal was heard after objections were made by two business people - including Marshalsea Property Company (developers of the unopened Naas Shopping Centre) director Liam O’Farrell - and two Naas residents.
Last August, Naas Town Council (NTC) granted permission for the demolition of the Superquinn store and the building of a three storey 11,259 square metre store along with an electricity sub station, gates and signs.
Planning inspector Auriol Considine came out against the plan, criticising the “proposed scale and bulk of the building to be located on a restricted site which would represent an overdevelopment of the site.” Ms. Considine, who visited the site on four occasions, speculated that if the development was allowed it would have a negative impact on the amenity value of existing properties.
She also said the proposed plaza area at the site would not provide a quality public space “due to overshadowing by the proposed retail unit notably during the early summer evenings.”
Ms. Considine also attacked the lack of car parking (which was also the reason given by most of the objectors) in the area currently adding “the lack of car parking proposed would not be acceptable in terms of traffic safety and management.”
However the board rejected her position and sided with NTC’s view that the provision of “comparison retailing” without car parking is generally acceptable in town centre locations.
The board also pointed out that Penneys had agreed to reduce the size of the development during the appeal hearings (from 11,259 square metres to 10,432 square metres).
This means that the size of the second floor has been reduced by relocating stock and plant areas to a new basement.
The board also suggested that the new store will enhance the viability of the town centre by encouraging redevelopment.
Among the conditions imposed is the protection of the archaeological heritage of the area, specifically the Grandstand public house, a derelict three storey building which fronts on to North Main Street. Before work starts Penneys’ parent company Primark has to pay E100,000 for NTC for traffic management works in addition to from E845,000 towards the cost of providing services and almost E2m. towards the cost of the provision of car parking spaces.