Judicial review casts doubts on Horizon Mall in Limerick

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

An architech's impression of how the Horizon Mall at the Dublin Road could appear if it is completed
THE proposed €100m Horizon Mall on the outskirts of the city has been thrown into fresh doubt this week after the Crescent Shopping Centre launched judicial review proceedings into the permission given to the development.

THE proposed €100m Horizon Mall on the outskirts of the city has been thrown into fresh doubt this week after the Crescent Shopping Centre launched judicial review proceedings into the permission given to the development.

The Limerick Leader can reveal An Bord Pleanala has received communication from companies behind the Dooradoyle shopping centre informing them they have secured leave for a judicial review.

The matter will be mentioned in the High Court on July 22.

Belfast-based developer Suneil Sharma secured permission to build a massive shopping centre on the Dublin road, which if completed, is expected to house Limerick’s first Marks and Spencer.

But the project has proven unpopular with city traders, many of whom fear the donut effect which has already had a negative effect on the centre will be exacerbated if the former Parkway Valley site is developed.

Although Limerick City and County Council denied planning permission on this basis, Mr Sharma won the appeal he lodged with An Bord Pleanala.

However, the national appeals body stipulated he would have to have the project finished by next summer. Now, with a legal challenge pending, this is unlikely to happen.

And ultimately, the permission could be overturned, leaving Mr Sharma back at square one.

City and County Council chief executive Conn Murray mentioned the Horizon Mall issue at a special briefing on the economic renewal plan for the city this Tuesday night.

He said because of this judicial review, he is restricted in what he can say.“But I have been on record, and remain on record, that it was not a good decision for the city. Obviously my position was made clear in the context of the decision which we made [to refuse permission], and we were supported by the Chamber, which I am grateful for,” Mr Murray said.

While the exact reasons for the judicial review have not been disclosed, the Crescent Shopping Centre was one of dozens of groups to object to the proposal.

It is understood management there asked many of the other groups who objected to the shopping centre, including the Limerick City Business Association, to join the judicial review.

In their submission, the Crescent said they feared the development “will divert trade from our members and reduce their ability to operate their business.”

“In some instances this could lead to closure of shops and possibly the loss of people’s livelihoods,” the objection stated.

The shopping centre outlined 11 concerns and factors in calling for the refusal of planing, including that the retail centre was no longer in accordance with retail planning guidelines for the Castletroy area.

Ironically, it is the Crescent Shopping Centre which many traders have blamed for a downturn in trade in the city.

It was this shopping centre - built in the 1970s - which originally courted Marks & Spencer, before An Bord Pleanala refused permission for an expansion in Dooradoyle.

The British retailer later confirmed it’s intention to move to the Horizon Mall once it was complete.

A spokesperson for An Bord Pleanala confirmed they received notification on the judicial review from South West Regional Shopping Centre Promotions Association Ltd, and the Stapleyside Company.

Crescent Shopping Centre manager John Davitt declined to comment when contacted by the Leader.