Approval given for major retail development at derelict site

Cork County Council has approved planning permission for a major retail development to be built at the dilapidated former Seafield Textiles building in Youghal, Co Cork.

The application by the local consortium Seafield Group is for a mixed-use neighbourhood centre, including a single-storey, 1,445sq m discount food store, a restaurant, and single-storey offices. Plann-ing proposals also envisage 178 car spaces, a covered pedestrian walkway, upgraded vehicular accesses, extended access road, and associated landscaping.

The proposed development would lead to the demolition of all existing site structures with the exception of a portion that facilitates a protected plaque structure on the 3.7-acre site in the Strand area.

The application was a renewed submission from the group after An Bord Pleanála upheld an appeal against the original permission in 2012 on the basis that the proposed development would contravene the 2009-15 Town Development Plan by detracting from services provided by the town centre.

Before it was abolished, Youghal Town Council had subsequently varied the Town Development Plan to facilitate a “medium-sized convenience store” to meet the needs of the local catchment area.

Youghal currently has three large supermarkets serving a population of almost 7,000, with Lidl and Tesco on the town’s eastern periphery, and SuperValu closer to the town centre.

Another application, on the former Youghal Carpets site near the town centre, is pending.

A 2013 survey had revealed that one-in-four respondents travelled 30km to either Dungarvan or Midleton for convenience (food) shopping, while three-in-four shopped elsewhere for comparison (non-food) goods.

The survey also found 65% of respondents would “very likely” visit Youghal more regularly if a wider variety of shops were available.

Meanwhile, the past two decades have also given rise to the development of several new housing estates overlooking Youghal, with easy access to the Strand area.

As the town battles for recognition as a vibrant holiday resort, the Seafield site — adjacent to Perks amusements and Youghal greyhound track — is an overgrown, derelict eyesore.

Fires have broken out in the disused building several times and it has been infiltrated by pigeons, causing many locals to see it as a health-and-safety risk.

A spokesman for the Seafield Group, anticipating further appeals, said: “This is a good development for the town and in the interests of good citizenship and concern for communities and neighbours, we would hope that people would not cause any more difficulties for it.”

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