Fermoy arcade planning appeal rejected

Planning permission for a controversial amusement arcade in Fermoy has been refused on the grounds that it would have potential negative impacts on the local community.

Sean Sherlock: "Their promoters are out to get a buck out of people who are vulnerable."

An Bord Pleanála has rejected an appeal by Fun Junction, which runs similar amusement arcades in Youghal and Midleton, for its proposed new outlet at Corrin Court in the north Cork town.

The company had challenged the earlier decision of Cork County Council to refuse permission for the new gaming and gambling centre.

The planning appeals authority said the proposed business was located within a neighbourhood centre close to an established residential area and in close proximity to a number of schools.

An Bord Pleanála said the arcade was in a part of Fermoy zoned “commercial” which promoted developments that integrated with the existing character of the town.

It is considered that the proposed amusement centre would be incompatible with the range of neighbourhood commercial uses appropriate to this residential area by virtue of the nature of the use itself,” it ruled.

The board also refused planning permission on the basis that adequate parking facilities were not provided for the development.

An Bord Pleanála said on-road parking and traffic movements generated by the business were likely to endanger public safety — a finding which was rejected by one of its own inspectors.

A number of parties had expressed reservations about the development including St Colman’s College, Coláiste an Chraoibhín, and Loreto Secondary School, Fermoy as well as the local St Vincent de Paul branch and Labour TD, Seán Sherlock.

Fun Junction had argued that the amusement arcade would be restricted to over-18s and would not result in “any congregation of schoolchildren” or anti-social behaviour. It also claimed the business would generate only half the traffic of the building’s previous use as a convenience store.

Kevin Moore, an inspector with An Bord Pleanála, said Cork County Council’s reasons for refusing planning permission “completely missed” the relevant planning issues.

He said no rational conclusion could be drawn that an amusement arcade would generate more traffic or pedestrian movements than a convenience store.

The inspector said the main consideration was the impact of the proposed development on local amenities which he said could not be ignored on social and community grounds. He said there was “no community benefit” by permitting an amusement arcade in the proposed location.

Fun Junction had previously secured planning permission from both the council and An Bord Pleanála for an amusement arcade on the other side of Fermoy but it abandoned the development as it felt conditions imposed by the planning appeals authority were too restrictive, with opening hours limited from 10am to 8pm.

Welcoming the ruling, Mr Sherlock said the presence of amusement arcades was insidious as they targeted vulnerable and poor people.

Their presence on main streets is quite literally a blight on towns,” said Mr Sherlock. “Their promoters are out to get a buck out of people who are vulnerable. It is a thundering disgrace.

He added: “County development plans need to be more robust and councillors need to take a greater, more detailed look at policy.”

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