Mounting fears over global restaurant in Limerick city suburb

Fintan Walsh

Reporter:

Fintan Walsh

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fintan.walsh@limerickleader.ie

Mounting fears over global restaurant in Limerick city suburb

Architect's impressions of restaurant unit at Crescent Shopping Centre

Fintan Walshfintan.walsh@limerickleader.ie

FEARS have been expressed that the development of a restaurant unit for a global chain at the Crescent Shopping Centre will add further pressure to Limerick city retailers.

Limerick City and County Council approved the development of a two-storey restaurant and community space at the Dooradoyle shopping complex on April 17, subject to a number of conditions.

But An Bord Pleanala has received two official objections from the applicant, Liffey Blue Arc UC and local restaurateur Thomas O’Sullivan, of Russells Bar and Restaurant.

And it is expected that the board’s final decision will not arrive until September 16 this year.

In his objection to An Bord Pleanala last month, Mr O’Sullivan said that he supported the addition of community facilities and “broadly welcomed” the addition of a new global restaurant chain in Limerick. But the businessman expressed concerns over whether “adequate provisions” have been made for the community facilities’ impact, and that the location of the restaurant “does seem to contradict” the council’s goal of “reestablishing the city centre at the top of the retail hierarchy”.

He said the unnamed restaurant “risks changing the role of the shopping centre.

“With the addition of such a flagship restaurant, more shoppers will inevitably be drawn to the shopping centre and away from the city centre. This increased footfall will lead to increased demand for retail space in the shopping centre, further pressuring retailers in the city centre.”

Mr O’Sullivan also included a list of 32 local restaurants; 19 in the surrounding suburbs, and 13 at the Crescent Shopping Centre. He added that increased customer numbers at the shopping complex will make it “a more attractive location for retailers, reducing their interest in locating in the city centre”.

In relation to the community space, which would accommodate more than 50 people, Mr O'Sullivan expressed concern over “no new [parking] spaces are provided in the design” stating that eight spaces “are actually removed”.

Meanwhile, applicant Liffey Blue Arc said that several conditions set out in the planning department’s approval are “considered unnecessary, unreasonable and unenforceable”.

One of the conditions stated that prior to the commencement of development, the applicant shall submit details of the operator of the proposed restaurant, and that the name and details of the new restaurant facility be provided.

“It was set out that the proposed occupant of the unit has agreed terms with the developer, subject to obtaining a favourable planning permission, and there, it would not be appropriate to provide details of the occupant at this stage. It was, however, confirmed that intended occupant would be consistent with the proposed restaurant use, as applied for, and that the proposed occupant was not currently in the Crescent Shopping Centre,” the applicant stated. 

The applicant added that this condition was unreasonable as “it provides an undue level of commercial control to the planning authority over the proposed unit”.