Council makes ruling on plan for second Lidl store in Athlone
A second Lidl store in Baylough would "exacerbate traffic congestion" in an area zoned for residential development, Westmeath County Council ruled recently, refusing approval for the development to move forward.
They are two of the four main reasons cited by the local authority for knocking back the project on the site of the current O'Meara's Garage in Baylough which would involve the demolition of the existing garage and three adjacent homes and a new vehicle entrance off the Galway Road.
Reacting to the news, the German discounter said it was "disappointed with the decision" in relation to the Athlone development.
"Our intention was to construct a new state-of-the-art store which would offer customers in the Athlone area more choice when it comes to choosing a supermarket. We are currently reviewing the decision before deciding on our next steps," the retail giant said in a brief statement.
It had earlier estimated up to 30 new jobs could be created as part of the store development spanning over 2,100 square metres of floor space and over 120 parking spaces.
A graphic design image, provided by Lidl, showing what the new store would like like.
However, due to the proposed location to the junction of the R446 road and R914, and the traffic movements associated with a supermarket venture, Westmeath County Council judged that the project as presented would "exacerbate traffic congestion at this junction, particularly at peak times."
The council also considered that project would represent an "unacceptable development approach" given the "absence of recommended traffic solutions" in the lodged Road Safety Audit Report.
Any retail developments in excess of 1,000 square metres close to national road networks and intersections should be accompanied by a Traffic and Transport Assessment, the council decision documents also stated, saying that in the absence of that report to "examine and assess the likely impact of the proposed development on the M6 at Junction 12 and junction changes recommended elsewhere, they are not in a position to grant planning approval.
Planners were also unhappy that the design, siting, scale and mass amounted to a "poor, un-integrated design" and would result in a "negative visual impact" on the character and context of the area.
Located on land zoned residential, the local authority said while Athlone Town Development Plan, 2014, permits provision of local shops, it only does so if they are "appropriate in scale" to "not unduly interfere with the predominant residential land use, however, this project was assessed to be of the scale allowed and then result in a contravention of the plan.
There were three submissions during the planning process opposing the project from local retailers and others, arguing that the proposed foodstore and off-licence would have a detrimental impact on other retail businesses in the area, and they raise concerns about traffic delays and pedestrian safety.
In planning documents, Lidl indicated that the jobs created in the second Athlone store would generate €950,000 per annum locally in wages, in addition to indirect and construction jobs. It had estimated turnover at the Baylough outlet could hit over €13.9 million a year.