The construction of a new shopping centre and discount foodstore with car parking for 468 vehicles on the Clonmel Road in Carrick-on-Suir, opposite the entrance to Cláirín, is currently under appeal to An Bord Pleanála.
The project, the brainchild of Riussiur Developments Ltd, which also incorporates the construction of a new bridge, shall be green-lit or shot down by An Bord when it makes its ruling known in May.
Carrick Town Councillors, with the exception of Fianna Fáil’s Sylvia Cooney-Sheehan are in favour of the proposal, while several local traders, including some based on Main Street, are steadfastly against it.
With this newspaper having viewed all available public documentation on the development, it is clear that the opposition to the project is twofold.
Firstly, traders and residents feel the development would provide a significant threat to existing retailers in the town centre.
Incidentally, this same threat was cited by Town Manager Pat Slattery in his opposition to Heatons’ proposal to open a store at Tinvane Business Park, 1.7 kilometres from Dillon Bridge.
The Riussuir proposal, which the Town Manager is firmly behind, is exactly a kilometre from Dillon Bridge so it would appear that metres really matter when it comes to planning in Carrick-on-Suir.
The second plank of opposition to the development is on environmental grounds, since the site is prone to flooding during inclement weather conditions, such as those experienced a month ago.
The highlighting of the flooding issue, which has led to Cllr Cooney-Sheehan being labelled a scaremonger by Cllr Denis Landy, has generated great local debate.
A flooding provision summary prepared for Riussiur by Michael Punch & Partners Consulting Engineers, states: “The loss of flood storage will have no noticeable impact on flood levels in the River Suir with the storage capacity currently available of filling in 54 seconds where the flood peak in Carrick on Suir prevails for at least 24 to 48 hours…
“The development of the lands at Carrick on Suir have included mitigation measures to minimise flooding impacts and it is considered that the impacts, on introduction of mitigation measures, are acceptable.”
Regarding the bridge: “The structure will have no impact on flood levels downstream in the more urban flood prone lands in Carrick on Suir.”
Should the bridge get the go-ahead, cofferdams will have to be constructed, which will temporarily affect the Suir’s flow.
Such an installation would be limited to a 10-week period from mid-August to mid-October “to ensure that it does not impact on spawning seasons of shad, lamprey, smelt, salmon and trout”.
On behalf of the developers, architects Healy & Partners are currently preparing a briefing document for the local media which will assess the project’s design within the context of Carrick’s future expansion.
It will also include the number of construction jobs that the project is set to create, already estimated to be in the region of 250, with a projected 300 set to be generated once the retail development is up and running.
The document will also identify the amount of money currently being spent in Clonmel, Kilkenny and Waterford “as a result of a development of this scale not being available to the town”.
In the meantime, the local debate shall undoubtedly rumble on.