The Mr Price shop at Cornamaddy.

Council refuses planning approval for Mr. Price shop

Discount retailer Mr. Price has failed to get the backing of Westmeath County Council for a shop at Cornamaddy, on the same site as the company's distribution centre.

The local authority rejected a retention application by the high-profile company for a change of use of a former wholesalers/warehouse building to use as a shop in Cornamaddy on February 8 last, with its out of town location and risk to traffic safety cited as two of the major stumbling blocks.

Back in early December, a Mr. Price spokesperson confirmed to this paper that the store was moving to a building twice the size of its previous home in the Diskin Centre, Golden Island, saying that it was always in the plans to have a store on-site adjacent to the distribution hub in the former Nexans (Cable and Wire) premises in Cornamaddy.

It opened on December 3 in the new location, the company said at the time, and a planning notice was published seeking retention. CORAJIO, trading as Mr. Price, then submitted a planning application seeking retention of the change of use of a wholesalers/warehouse building to a shop use in Cornamaddy on December 7.

Retention permission is usually only applied for when construction of or alteration to a building has already taken place without planning permission. An individual or developer applies to have the work approved retrospectively.

Last week, however, Westmeath County Council refused to approve the retention application for the Mr. Price project, stating that to allow significant convenience retailing at this out of town location would constitute “ad-hoc, piecemeal development of a scale and type” that would adversely impact the centre of the town.

It would also “compromise both the regeneration and rejuvenation of the defined retail core area,” the council noted in its decision.

The planning authority also judged that the development, as proposed in an out of town location, would “pose a risk to pedestrian, cyclist and traffic safety.”

Another reason for its refusal stated: “Having regard to the planning register records associated with this site and the nature of use undertaken on the subject site in its entirety, it is considered that to permit the development as proposed would, if permitted consolidate and intensify an existing unauthorised use/development" and would set a precedent for similar developments of this type in the future.

A submission from Patrick Moran of 9 Woodville Avenue, Woodville Grange said while he did not object in principle to the development which is already in operation, he maintained some improvements could be made.

He referred to the lack of a footpath along the perimeter of the property and it should be installed from the entrance to the school.

Given the importance of the road, he suggested that a turning lane should be installed there to maintain traffic flow.

Mr Moran also recommended any approval be subject to an approved landscaping plan, saying the applicant has “displayed worrying signs towards maintenance of the exterior grounds” referring to the poor condition of the perimeter fence, entrance and car park. He also claimed there is a “vast amount of litter strewn around the site, roads and footpaths”

A representation on the planning file from Athlone's Mayor Cllr Aengus O'Rourke asked that his support for the Mr. Price application be recorded.

The refusal decision can be appealed to An Bord Pleanála within four weeks otherwise enforcement action may be taken.

Mr. Price has been contacted for comment but has yet to issue a response.

Back in 2018, the popular retailer announced €2.5 million plans to turn the former Nexans site into a nationwide distribution centre for its 50-plus strong retail network, bringing with it 200 new jobs.

While a spokesperson said in December that the staff count in Cornamaddy including the new store is quite a bit less than that, at 80, she explained that they were at that stage recruiting more employees in the distribution centre.

Only established in 2010, the Irish-owned company purchased the long-vacant Nexans (Cable and Wire) premises three years ago.

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