Planning board accused of being out of touch by mayor

AN BORD PLEANÁLA was yesterday accused of being out of touch for continuing to put on hold a decision on the e350 million Opera retail centre in Limerick.

Mayor John Gilligan said he has lost faith in the planning appeals board after a ruling on the Opera centre was deferred for a further four months.

Last week, An Bord Pleanala set April 9 as the decision date on the biggest retail development ever planned in the mid-west.

But the ruling will now be delayed as An Bord Pleanála requested further revised drawings for historic buildings on the proposed site at Rutland Street, Michael Street, Ellen Street and Patrick Street.

Mr Gilligan said: “Limerick City Council has to make a decision on a development within eight weeks but An Bord Pleanála can sit on it for six, eight or 12 months.

“I think they are totally out of touch with reality and I’ve just lost faith in them.”

If given the go-ahead, the proposed Opera Centre could create up to 300 construction jobs and over 800 retail jobs when completed.

It is hoped that a major retailer such as Marks & Spencer will be attracted to take up an anchor tenancy.

Limerick City Council claim the Opera Centre plan will help the city centre fight the drift to suburban shopping centres, which has hit city centre trading.

An Bord Pleanála has given approval for a major development at Limerick’s Milk Market which will see it covered and extended to include a 120-seat restaurant.

The market only opens on Saturday mornings but An Bord Pleanala’s decision will now see it open six days a week.

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