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There was good news for Fermoy this week with confirmation from the Shipton Group that they are to proceed with their plans for a major development at the old mart site in the town. It had been feared that, with the previous plan having been refused planning permission, the long wait for the flood works to be done and the recession, that the developers would shelve their plans, seen by many as vital to the future viability of the town.
Project manager with the Shipton Group, Padraig Barrett told The Avondhu this week that they’re waiting for the flood protection works to be completed. “We’re just waiting for them to finish and as soon as they are we will bring forward our plans,” he advised.
They have a plan drawn up for the site which they will launch later this year, he said. While he wouldn’t be drawn on what it contains, the previous plan was for a mix of shops, offices and apartments. It also contained a plan for a seven screen cinema. However, that was subsequently removed after discussions with Fermoy Town Council. They also reduced the height of some of the proposed developments and reduced the overall scale of the project. Whether the new plan will be a further scaled back version of the original, in light of the economic downturn, remains to be seen.
When the previous €100million retail centre plan was refused planning permission by Fermoy Town Council planners, the then mayor, Cllr Tadhg O’Donovan, organised a petition which gathered 3,000 signatures in support of the development. He described the proposed development at the time as ‘a courageous plan which represents the strongest hope for Fermoy going forward’.
The developers appealed to An Bord Pleanala but Fermoy County Council’s decision was upheld. The planning appeals board gave four reasons for refusing the development. It claimed that the retail centre would be contrary to the planning and development of the town centre; would challenge the vitality and viability of the existing businesses in the centre of Fermoy; would negatively impact on the image and view of the area and would provide a flooding risk to the location. With the flooding risk now being addressed and the site having been recently re-designated as ‘future retail core of the town’, two of obstacles will no longer be at issue. Town planners may also view the plan differently this time around, given the slump in development since the economic downturn.
Local councillor Seamus Coleman, a staunch supporter of the development, said this week: “It was obvious that when they paid so much money for the site they were in it for the long haul. They have a comprehensive plan for the site. The sooner the better for Fermoy would be my opinion. Fermoy needs an injection of life. Existing businesses would benefit because it would create increased footfall.
“It’ll be different this time, the flood plan will be in place, that’ll make a difference. I hope to see it designed in such a way as to have a continuation of the street into the complex,” he said.
He also said that Tesco are ready to develop their outlet across the road from the old mart site.
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