Waterford County Council passed a vote of ‘no confidence’ in An Bord Pleanála this week after planning permissions for two, major, multi-million euro projects, involving scores of jobs, were overturned by the Planning Board.
Angry Councillors hit out at a decision by An Bord which determined that Tk Maxx required planning permission to continue trading on the new Butlerstown Business Park where 60 workers were employed in the store.
The Council heard that Waterford city building developer, Noel Frisby, referred the case of Tk Maxx to the planning authority which determined that the company required planning permission to continue trading. Tk Maxx had an option to apply for planning permission but, given the Retail Planning Guidelines, a positive outlook was not predicted, said County Mayor, Councillor Tom Higgins.
The Mayor pointed out that the Council had previously issued enforcement proceedings in the case relating specifically to the retailing of fashion clothing and this action was following ‘due process’.
In a related case, An Bord Pleanála overturned a decision by the County Council to grant planning permission for a Mothercare store at Butlerstown. That referral had also been made by Mr Frisby and had effectively prevented Mothercare from establishing at Butlerstown Park.
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The implications of all those decisions were under consideration by the Council, said Mayor Higgins.
Director of Services Brian White explained that, when a complaint was made that the TKMAXX development was trading without the required planning permission, the Council had no option but to go down the enforcement route. It was up to the company to apply for planning permission and the Council would discuss the matter with the company and try and ensue that no jobs were lost.
He said it was felt that retailing at Butlerstown, which was zoned for warehousing, would have an adverse affect on Waterford city centre and was not consistent with warehousing. The Motherneeds project seemed to be ‘scuffled’ at the moment and the decision had significant implications for the future use of the Butlerstown Business Park.
A bit rich!
Mayor Higgins said it was a ‘bit rich’ for a Kilkenny man such as Mr Frisby to come into County Waterford and tell them what to do. However, Mr White replied that anybody had the right to object and it had been made clear to the Butlerstown Park operator that the sale of fashion clothing was ‘not on’.
Cllr Pat Daly (FF) said he wondered if An Bord Pleanala was taking the economic situation into consideration by enforcing strict planning regulations at Butlerstown Park. Jobs were involved there, the economic climate had changed and jobs should be the number one priority at the moment.
Cllr. John Carey (FG) said it was time that the Council called for the disbanding of An Board Pleanala.
The County Manager, Ray O’Dwyer, said the Council had no power to rezone the land at Butlerstown Park at this stage. He said discussions were ongoing between the Waterford and Kilkenny local authorities for a Gateway Retail Strategy which posed the best option.
The Mayor said everybody was fed-up with An Bord Pleanala following its recent decisions in respect of shopping in Tramore, Butlerstown and its decision on the Coolnamuck project.
On the proposal of Cllr Carey, seconded by Cllr. James Tobin (FF), the council passed a resolution expressing loss of confidence in An Bord Pleanala. The resolution was passed by a large majority with only Cllr Theresa Wright (Lab) dissenting. A copy of the resolution is to be sent to other local authorities.