The recent application to Cork Co. Council for planning permission relating to the JR Oronco Service Station at junction 14 (opposite Moorepark) is the latest in the scramble by private developers to fill the wide-open void in the market to serve the M8 in this region. These actions by private interests are perfectly understandable, and that’s exactly what business people do – spot an opportunity and develop a solution.
Interestingly, there has been positive reaction in this paper to the two proposals in Fermoy (Amber’s expansion and JR Oronco’s new proposal) but not to the one at Junction 13 (Mitchelstown) by Applegreen. All will provide jobs and a much needed service for traffic, but somehow the Mitchelstown business community are concerned that it will draw custom from Mitchelstown, whereas there has been no public expression of this in relation to the Fermoy proposals.
All service stations seek to attract as much custom as possible, of course. The M8 is the big draw, but there is also local custom for fuel, the forecourt shop and all the food counters / drive-throughs. There are consequences obviously to local, existing food and retail providers if these new stations come into being. So, who is coordinating all of this and planning what’s best for the locality and wider region?
The NRA, the authority who have overall responsibility for the M8, have ear-marked (and I think are in possession of) a site between Fermoy and Mitchelstown, and this forms part of their overall approach to provide services “on-line” for the motorway. The development if this site, while currently on hold, will be started as soon as “economic circumstances” permit. They have declined the call to dictate (or even comment on) the service station development on the M8 although their document “Spatial Planning and National Roads”, January 2012, contains a lot of guidelines, e.g. “Furthermore, to permit a service area to become a destination for local customers would be contrary to Government planning policy on retail and town centres as set out in Retail Planning Guidelines 2005. The consequence of this would be to threaten the viability of businesses in cities, towns or other local centres.” Despite this, they say it’s a matter for Cork County Council.
Cork County Council planning office have recently approved the expansion at Amber on the Dublin Road (although this is going through appeal – from this group and another individual – with An Bord Pleanala at the moment) and now have JR Oronco’s planning application before them. It seems soon they will have another one from Applegreen at junction 13. There are implications to local traffic flows and local retail / food businesses with all these proposed developments and due considerations needs to be given to an overall strategy, keeping in mind the NRA do have plans for an on-line station in the immediate vicinity. This would serve the M8 most appropriately and conforms to international standards. Letting ourselves follow the interests of developers has failed miserably in the recent past with regard to residential development. Are we to repeat our mistakes with this developers’ opportunity?
Revive Fermoy Group.
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