A new multiplex cinema is to open in Killarney, Co Kery on the former site of one of the town’s best-known hotels.
The developers of the new five-screen cinema on the site of the former Torc Great Southern Hotel on Park Road in Killarney have successfully appealed the decision of Kerry County Council to refuse planning permission for the project.
The site has been lying idle since Aer Rianta decided to close the hotel in 2003 with the loss of 60 jobs.
It was bought later that year by the Limerick-based Robert Butler development group, which secured planning permission in 2007 for a large shopping centre on the site following the demolition of the former hotel. However, the project was abandoned following the economic downturn.
An application to develop a visitor and conference centre on the site in 2016 was subsequently withdrawn.
The multiplex will comprise of one premium, large format, 2,000 sq ft screen with seating for more than 300 people, three 95-seat screens and one 119-seat screen as well as a two-storey restaurant.
Kerry County Council had refused planning permission for the multiplex on the grounds that it would generate unsustainable, single-trip car journeys due to its location at the edge of the town centre.
Council planners said the development would damage the evening economy in Killarney’s town centre and take greatly from the tourism product available within the town core which would be detrimental to its vitality and vibrancy.
The developer of the multiplex, Torcbridge, said that the council’s concern could also apply to Killarney’s other large cinema, Cinema Killarney, as it was also located on the edge of the town. It claimed there was no justification for claiming the proposal would encourage single-destination car journeys as it maintained that most people visiting a cinema also partake in another activity such as eating, drinking or shopping.
Torcbridge said the council did not appear to have any concern about the viability of Killarney’s core town centre when it previously granted planning permission for a shopping centre with car parking on the site.
Bord Pleanála ruled that the new multiplex would advance the objectives of providing for an increased range of facilities in Killarney which would complement existing facilities in the town centre and boost the evening and weekend economy.
A Bord Pleanála inspector said the council’s concern seemed to be based on its potential impact on the existing cinema in Killarney but said the planning process was not designed to inhibit commercial competitiveness.
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