Ennis councillors have reiterated their concerns that a business employing 55 persons is breaching planning permission regulations and the Clare County Development Plan.
A report on the planning and development status of Homesavers which operates at Ballymaley Business Park on the Gort Rd since October was sought by Cllr Johnny Flynn (FG) at this week’s meeting of the Ennis Municipal District.
As previously reported by The Clare Echo, Clare County Council have an ongoing enforcement file in relation to the development.
Legal advice is being sought by the local authority, acting senior executive planner, Gareth Ruane confirmed. “The Planning Authority are aware of an alleged breach of planning permission in a premises at the Ballymaley Business Park”.
At the end of November, the High Court set aside an injunction preventing the Homesavers retail chain from operating three shops in Waterford. The injunction had been secured by Waterford City and County Council a month previously.
Speaking on Tuesday, Cllr Flynn said he was “fully in favour of competition” and detailed that he shopped at “every corner shop in my area. I believe in fair competition in the retail sector”. He expressed the view that Ballymaley was zoned for the sale of “bulky items” such as furniture and appliances “not for retail and convenience food stuff”. Flynn said he was concerned the County Development Plan had been breached.
“Nobody is not in favour of creating jobs but it is about creating the right jobs in the right location. We don’t want people to lose confidence in the planning system, we are part of the planning authority,” the Ennis man added.
Councillors must allow due process unfold, Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy (FF) remarked. She revealed her amazement at the amount of merchandise on offer at the store with staff “content”. “It is all well and good that 40 or so people are employed but planning cannot be ignored. It does appear as though there is an infringement”.
All elected representatives will support employment and new businesses but planning must be adhered to, Cllr Ann Norton (IND) commented. “This is an issue that Clare County Council cannot be seen to be favourable of, the planning element of it isn’t suitable to the area and we cannot be seen to be supporting businesses going into parks that are not suitable for the goods they are selling”. Businesses “doing the right thing” must be considered, Cllr Norton felt. “I don’t want people losing jobs or people not having an opportunity to open businesses in or around the area but we have to make sure people follow protocol and proper planning guidelines”.
Homesavers have previously told The Clare Echo they are confident the Ennis store is in compliance with all planning regulations.