Developers say no flooding risk to Blackpool, but OPW says centre appears to be located on floodplain

An inspector from An Bord Pleanála yesterday refused an application from a senior counsel representing Dunnes Stores to abandon an oral hearing into a major retail development, proposed for the north-east side of Cork City.

Eamon Galligan SC claimed the planning appeals board did not have the jurisdiction to conduct the hearing into plans for a mixed retail unit adjacent to the landmark Fox and Hounds pub in Ballyvolane.

Ballyvolane Development Company Limited want to build a centre consisting of eight units in two blocks, which will include shops, a restaurant, a community building, an 8,882 sq m premises for an anchor tenant, and 434 car parking spaces.

Mr Galligan said that, in his opinion, Bord Pleanála should not proceed with the oral hearing, as it was based in part on a planning application which had since been withdrawn. A modified application was submitted. He also claimed the two planning applications under appeal — a retail development and road access — were mutually inconsistent. “The pragmatic thing to do would be to simply abandon the process,” he said.

Bord Pleanála inspector Auriol Considine decided to proceed with the hearing, at the Imperial Hotel.

The developers, however, had disagreed with Mr Galligan and outlined their proposals which include a new access road to the site, improvements to local road junctions and the creation of pedestrian walkways. The development was needed, they said, to provide for population growth in Ballyvolane and maintained it would have a minimum impact on stores in the vicinity. The development was in line with both local authorities’ — city and county — vision to increase shopping facilities on the northside.

However, Cllr Ger Keohane, on behalf of some local residents objecting to the plan, questioned the need for more retail development in the area. Apart from the shopping centre in Ballyvolane, where Dunnes is the anchor tenant, he pointed to a major centre in Blackpool and, in Glanmire, one of the country’s biggest SuperValu stores.

The developers said the site did not flood, even during Storm Frank. Kieran Thornton, a flooding expert representing the developers, said existing drainage systems and mitigation measures would prevent the site from flooding and impacting on downstream Blackpool.

However, the OPW provided a written submission which stated “the developments both appear to some extent to be located in the floodplain of the Glen River in an area that is known or considered to be at risk of flooding”. The OPW said it is developing a flood-relief scheme in Blackpool and “would suggest strongly that no increase in flood risk at all be allowed to occur as a result of these proposed (upstream) developments”.

Mr Thornton claimed the developer’s measures would reduce flooding.

Objections to the plan have been made by Dunnes Stores, An Taisce, Brookvale Residents’ Association and other local residents. A decision is likely to be made by Bord Pleanála in mid-March.


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