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*Cllr Gerry Flynn & Rachael English at a meeting to discuss The Venue in 2019. Photograph: Joe Buckley

PUBLIC MONEY “should not be spent” on a Shannon site which had been intended to become multi-a functional community, civic and arts centre until it is in the ownership of Clare County Council, a local councillor has stressed while sharing his “great concerns”.

Design and construction of the One Shannon Hub is included as a key objective of the Shannon Town Centre Masterplan. The hub will be located at what was planned to become The Venue, a project driven by the now defunct community group Croí na Sionna.

On May 6th, a procurement process commenced for the design team to prepare designs for the One Shannon Hub, this pre-qualification stage will run until June 8th after which a more detailed procurement phase will begin. However the lands have not yet been acquired by Clare County Council and the progress of the project is contingent on this purchase.

Director of Economic Development with the Council, Liam Conneally told councillors on Tuesday that they were “about to close the legal details in terms of a lease arrangement”. He said “extensive work” has been on done to determine the type of uses for the site and a final brief will be discussed at the July meeting of the Shannon Municipal District.

The Clare Echo understands that the “site visits” to facilities in London, Belfast and Dublin are planned for councillors and local authority officials

Mayor of Clare, Cllr PJ Ryan (IND) questioned if a recently vacated building beside the site was now in the focus of the Council. “I have knowledge of that but given the ownership of that building being different to the ownership of the site we’ve been working on then that would be a land assembly issue, we haven’t advanced that to any significant stage but I will say to you, we would be interested. Our interest is very much on the site that has been on long-term lease and was intended for The Venue,” Conneally responded.

“I don’t want a cent of public money spent on it until we establish ownership,” Cllr Gerry Flynn (IND) said while requesting clarity. He recalled that the site was previously a headed item on the agenda of Shannon MD meetings, “we were told we weren’t up to task and a private group tried to take it on but couldn’t deliver”.

Terms and conditions of the lease arrangement are close to being finalised, Conneally outlined, he said, “I’ve asked more than one of my senior staff to be involved in the transfer of that site into our control”. He added, “we will be in control of it before we spend a penny on it”. Value of the adjacent site must be determined before further moves are made, “we haven’t and won’t be spending money on the site until we’re in control of it”. He continued, “When Clare County Council and the Shannon Municipal District take on a project, we will deliver it”.

Desire exists among the public for development, Cllr Pat O’Gorman (FF) observed, “they want it done and they want it done right. Do it and do it once”.

Senior planners in Clare County Council were on Wednesday contacted by Cllr Flynn who said he supported the concept of the Shannon Hub but expressed “great concerns in regards to spending public money on a site that is not in the ownership of Clare County Council and I believe this is not a very desirable approach”.

Flynn said the Director failed to provide “any substantial information in regards to this issue and for that reason I will not be supporting trips outside of this country to look at locations where similar development has taken place. When and if this particular site in the Shannon Skycourt area is under ownership of Clare County Council I would expect open and transparent engagement in order that the project can provide the necessary public facilities”.

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