Decision on Lidl appeal over planning refusal is delayed
A decision on an appeal by Lidl against the refusal of planning permission for its proposed new €10 million store on the Dublin Road in Athlone has been delayed until the new year.
The supermarket chain lodged its appeal with An Bord Pleanála in July, and the planning authority had been scheduled to decide on the case by November 23.
However, when contacted by the Westmeath Independent, An Bord Pleanála official Chris Clarke indicated that there had been a delay, and that January 14 was the new date by which a decision was due to be made.
At the end of April, Lidl lodged the planning application for a newly-built store that would replace its existing branch which has traded at the Athlone Business Park on the Dublin Road since 2000.
It was proposed that the new 2,494 square metre outlet would be located directly across from the current Lidl premises, on the site of the Colm Quinn Motorstore.
The company said its "substantial €10 million investment" in the store would result in ten additional jobs, on top of its 35 staff already employed in Athlone, and would create 80 jobs during the construction stage.
However, the plans were rejected by Westmeath County Council, in June, on the basis that the store would be located outside Athlone's core retail area.
"The siting of a supermarket on this prominent site would constitute ad hoc, piecemeal development at an out-of-town location," said the council when outlining the reasons for its decision.
The local authority added that the store "would give rise to unsustainable traffic movements, which is contrary to national and local policy on active travel."
In its appeal against the decision, Lidl Ireland described the position taken by the council as 'irrational', 'contradictory' and 'unfair'.
The company said it appeared that the council had treated its application as though it was for a store in a new part of town, where it did not formerly have a presence, rather than as a replacement store in an area where it had traded for more than two decades.