Limerick planners urged to change 'dangerous proposal' for new exit to village

Maria Flannery

Reporter:

Maria Flannery

Mary Fitzgerald, proprietor of the Woodlands Hotel in Adare

Mary Fitzgerald, proprietor of the Woodlands Hotel in Adare

ROAD designers from Limerick City and County Council have been urged to change what has been described as a “dangerous proposal” which could see one of Adare’s largest employers lose millions of euro every year.

Representatives from Fitzgerald’s Woodlands House Hotel attended a special meeting of the full council, where they received unanimous support to have the interchange exit near the Lantern Lodge. Council executives were told to “go back to the drawing board” on the plans.

Under the council’s planned route, drivers coming off at Adare would have to pass through at least three roundabouts to get to the Woodlands. Currently, the Lantern Lodge is the first roundabout drivers meet when coming from the city on the N21, making the Woodlands a convenient location just off the major route to Kerry.

Proprietor Mary Fitzgerald, who started her B&B 40 years ago along with her late husband Dick and a handful of staff, told the council that there were currently 230 people employed at the hotel and spa. She added that there were plans to grow to 300 employees in the next three years.

“Most people employed are from within a 25km radius, and we are one of the biggest employers in the area. Most of our suppliers are from within a 40km radius,” said Ms Fitzgerald, explaining the knock-on effect in the local economy if the hotel loses trade.

Representing the family business, a Grant Thornton consultant outlined a forecast representing annual losses of €3.7m annually by 2027 if the current interchange plan goes ahead.

“Most of the Woodlands’ business comes through passing trade. Most of the destination wedding bookings come about from passing trade. The Woodlands cannot change their business model, so they are open to damage,” said the consultant.

Director of services Kieran Lehane said that the design team is still open to submissions, and committed to examining the new proposal closely. Once the plans are finalised, the design will be submitted to An Bord Pleanala.

An economist has been engaged to examine the submission.

 – For more on this story, see the Limerick Leader weekend editions, in shops this Thursday