‘Local retail centre’ shot down in councillors’ unanimous vote

PLANS for a “local retail centre” in Cork’s western suburbs have been shot down after councillors voted unanimously againstrezoning.

All 27 councillors who attended Monday night’s council meeting voted against the recommendation of planners to rezone the site off the Melbourne Road to facilitate the development.

The project at a site near the Rossbrook estate and the former Tennis Village faced opposition from RGDATA and local business owners.

Several local shop owners at the meeting applauded after the vote.

The issue came before councillors after planners assessed a planning application by Melbourne Management, associated with developers Michael and John O’Flynn, to change uses of eight business, enterprise and light industrial units at the former Melbourne Business Centre, to provide a 4,500 square-foot local retail centre, with off-licence and four other shops.

It is understood that TescoExpress was lined up as the intended anchor for the larger unit of the proposed retail centre.

The project was aimed at serving the large CIT student catchment in the area and its extensive purpose-built student accommodation.

The proposed site is zoned “business and technology” and the applicants required a two-thirds majority of council to vote in favour of rezoning for the retail plan to go ahead.

Planners said the need for a local centre in the area had been established in the city development plan and planning should be granted, subject to rezoning.

However, several councillors spoke out against the plan and said there was no need or desire for the project locally.

Cllr Mary Shields (FF) said a masterplan for Bishopstown sets out a clear vision for the development of a village centre at the former Dunne’s Stores shop on Curraheen Road — and not at this location.

“We must protect established small business in the area,” she said.

“I don’t want to see any more off-licences in my area. They bring in more noise, more people, more litter, more anti-social behaviour.”

Cllr Michael Ahern (Lab) said there is already a “local retail centre” in the area, with a bar, restaurant, shops, vets, coffee bar and post office within a few hundred metres.

Cllr Sean Martin (FF) said not a single councillor was proposing the rezoning and he called for a vote.

All 27 councillors then voted against the rezoning. It is one of the few times in the life of this council that there has been a unanimous vote on a rezoning.

Retail giant Tesco already operates a similar 5,000 square-foot Tesco Express at nearby Dennehy’s Cross.

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