The former Dunnes Stores premises at Sarsfield Street
A DECADE since it closed its Sarsfield Street store, Dunnes Stores has appealed against a council plan which could see a new lease of life at the vacant unit.
In a move described by metropolitan mayor Daniel Butler as “brazen”, the retail giant has lodged an objection to An Bord Pleanala after Limerick City and County Council imposed a vacant sites notice on the vast site beside Sarsfield Bridge.
The move would have meant Dunnes Stores could have faced charges of tens of thousands of euro unless it took action over the landmark building, under legislation designed to stop hoarding of units, something which the firm has been accused of in the past.
The former shop has lain largely idle since August 2008.
It’s unclear precisely what grounds the retailer is appealing the notice on – although planning laws state the onus would be on Dunnes Stores to provide proof the site has not lain idle for the entirety of the last 12 months.
Neither the local authority or An Bord Pleanala would provide appeal details.
The Dunnes Stores site on Sarsfield St. is on the Vacant Sites Register and is subject to a 3% levy from January 2019.— Limerick Council (@LimerickCouncil) August 8, 2018
The company, as is their right, has appealed that decision - to put the site on the Vacant Site register - to An Bord Pleanála.
Cllr Butler says while he would love to see the building back in use, he said it could prove difficult to any business person, due to the level of investment required.
“It was already an old building and required investment before closure. Now there has been a decade of dereliction.
“Over that period, you’ve had extreme weather, freezing temperatures, and frost damage.
“A huge level of investment would be required to make that site habitable again,” he said.
The metropolitan mayor added: ”Given the size of the site and its layout, it’s a very narrow spectrum of busineses which would be suitable to go in there.”
For the last number of years, Rooney’s Auctioneers has advertised the building – which has two-floors of 2,323 square metres of space – to let.
Gordon Kearney, the firm’s managing director says while there has been some interest, nobody is willing to take over the entire property.
“No-one has come forward with any other proposal which is of interest to the landlords at the present time,” he told the Leader, “Someone will look at it at some stage, and see a use, but I don’t know in what timeframe.”
He said the interior of the building remains in “reasonable condition”.
Dunnes did not return requests for comment.