Lis na Dara store plan is denied

ONGOING attempts to open a convenience store in the Lis Na Dara estate on the Carrickmacross Road have been dealt a major blow after the latest planning application by developers Lis Na Mere Developments were rejected by Dundalk Town Council.

ONGOING attempts to open a convenience store in the Lis Na Dara estate on the Carrickmacross Road have been dealt a major blow after the latest planning application by developers Lis Na Mere Developments were rejected by Dundalk Town Council.

The company had put in an application for planning permission to omit four houses previously granted in their plan for the estate. In their place they hoped to construct a new convenience store at An Bothair Dara with space for car parking, a bottle bank and landscaping. Lis na Mere estimated that 871 housing units would be within 400 metres of the store, which was to be located adjacent to the existing creche.

A number of residents were against its construction however, fearing it could lead to anti-social behaviour in the estate.

Conor Byrne from Ard na Mul and John Agnew and Thomas Mischo from Bothar na Dara led the objections after making submissions on the planning application to the council.

Mr Byrne pointed out in his submission that he is a chartered planning and development surveyor and town planner and said he purchased his house on the basis of the planning permission granted at the time.

He pointed out that the proposed store was not part of the original planning scheme “and thus was not considered to be necessary at the time.” He said no other convenience stores in the area have closed and that therefore the proposed store was still not necessary. He added that since then a local bus service has commenced “allowing greater ease of access for residents to local and town centre facilities.”

He expressed his concerns about the impact the extra traffic could have on the estate and described Lis na Mere’s plans as “merely a commercial knee-jerk reaction to the downturn in the residential market.”

Mr Byrne concluded: “As there are similar convenience stores within a five minute walk of the estate the catchment for the proposed store would be very limited and thus commercially not viable. It is likely that either the retail unit would remain vacant or the initial business would fail. In both these situations it would have a blighting effect and attract anti-social behaviour.”

He also objected to the bottle bank, pointing out that they “usually attract dirt and vermin and are dangerous to children in particular due to glass breakage.”

Mr Mischo backed up Mr Byrne’s comments in his submission, saying “there is no obvious need for a convenience store in this central location of Lis na Dara.”

He said that there was already plenty of stores on the Carrickmacross Road and pointed out that some of the households estimated to be within the catchment area by the developer were not actually in Lis na Dara. He pointed out that many more of these households were either unfinished or not yet started.

Mr Agnew added that walking times to existing shops in the area would be significantly reduced if the developer opened pedestrian access points onto Mount Avenue.

In the end the council upheld many of the residents’ concerns, rejecting Lis na Mere’s application on two counts – firstly that there was no identified need for such a store because there were already three local shops along the Carrickmacross Road and secondly that the development would endanger public safety by reason of a traffic hazard.

They pointed out that sightlines from the entrance were obscured, the car parking layout was “unacceptable” while the entrance radius “does not meet with recognised standards.”