Heatons have scrapped plans for a proposed store in Carrick-on-Suir, drawing a veil over one of the town’s most protracted planning rows in this or any decade.
The decision subsequently prompted Mayor Liam Walsh to request Councillor Sylvia Cooney-Sheehan to remove herself from Council Chambers during an angry exchange over the issue during last Monday week’s Council meeting.
Cllr Cooney-Sheehan (Fianna Fáil), who has supported the Heatons application for a store at Tinvane Retail Park since its initial application, didn’t conceal her disappointment with the news.
“The Town Manager [Pat Slattery], in my view, has mismanaged this issue and let the opportunity of a significant national retail chain coming to Carrick-on-Suir slip through his fingers,” she said.
“I would look now for Pat Slattery to resign his position as manager because if he doesn’t I will be appealing to higher powers that he should be removed from Carrick-on-Suir because I feel he has mismanaged us.”
Heatons’ withdrawal, announced on Monday week last, came just two days after 300 people marched through the town centre calling for an amendment of the Town Development Plan which could have green-lit the proposal.
At last week’s meeting of Carrick Town Council, Cllr Cooney-Sheehan tabled a motion requesting Mr Slattery to bring about a variation of the Development Plan, which would have allowed stores to sell non-bulky goods at Tinvane.
When put to a vote, the motion was defeated by seven votes to one. And following a heated discussion with Mayor Walsh, Cllr Cooney-Sheehan was requested to remove herself from that night’s meeting by the Chair.
“I certainly will remove myself because I don’t recognise this Council anyway,” said an irate Cllr Cooney-Sheehan before leaving the chamber.
During the earlier debate on Cllr Cooney-Sheehan’s motion, Cllr Patsy Murphy (Fianna Fáil) criticised Senator Paudie Coffey’s intervention on the issue, reported in our October 10th edition. The Fine Gael Senator’s recent statement also drew criticism from Town Clerk Michael O’Brien.
“He would be better off campaigning for jobs in Portlaw,” said Cllr Murphy. Said Mr O’Brien of Senator Coffey’s comments: “Describing Carrick-on-Suir as beleaguered was entirely inappropriate and does a disservice to the town.”
Cllr Murphy contended that there are some locals “who are totally anti-Council”. He stated: “I would like to see them putting their name forward [for election] next year. They are totally against the Council for one reason or another.”
The problems Heatons encountered at Tinvane stemmed from the fact that the planning permission granted for the park applied to warehousing and industry, criteria not met by Heatons’ ‘non-bulky’ trade, according to the Town Manager.
And while the matter of planning was referred to An Bord Pleanála by the Council, with its verdict due on November 4th, Heatons’ patience, it would appear, has finally run out.
In a statement, the company revealed that, given economic conditions, it had decided to opt out of any projects currently without planning permission. Thus, the axe has fallen on the Carrick project.
“We would like to thank everyone who expressed an interest in our company locating in the town, and we hope sometime in the future that we can review Carrick-on-Suir as a location for Heatons,” the statement read.