Council gives Dunboyne Lidl store the green light

CONCERNS Plans for the retail outlet and cafe in the heart of Dunboyne village saw more than 200 objections raised likely to be appealed

Meath County Council has granted planning permission to Lidl for a supermarket and cafe unit in the heart of Dunboyne village, despite receiving more than 200 objections.

The plans drew huge opposition locally with some 262 submissions made on the planning application. In particular, residents were concerned over changes being proposed to the village green and main street area to facilitate the development, including the removal of parking spaces.

The decision to grant permission is expected to be appealed to An Bord Pleanala.

The development includes a single storey discount foodstore with a gross floor area of 2,220sqm and net sales area of 1,409sqm with an ancillary off licence area together with parking for 119 cars.

A cafe retail unit of 165sqm adjacent to a proposed plaza area is planned for the existing car park to the west of the church. The entrance to the development will be approximately in the same location as the existing entrance to the car park.

The previously church-owned site was sold to Lidl by St Finian's Diocesan Trust and the planning application includes a car park with 53 spaces to serve St Peter and Paul's Church which would be connected to the grounds of the church.

Traffic management changes form part of the proposal and include a right turning lane on Main Street, a reduction in car parking spaces on the north side of the green and the removal of parking spaces on the east side.

The plans include a four-arm staggered signalised junction with controlled pedestrian crossings at Main Street to the south east of the green and the removal of parking spaces and kerb build outs to facilitate improved public realm space and achieve required forward visibility of the traffic signals and crossing points.

Lidl says the development will bring up to €12 million in local investment to the community, as well as creating 30 new jobs at the store and 100 during construction and development stages.

While people are generally supportive of a Lidl supermarket in the Dunboyne, widespread concerns were expressed about what changes will be made to the village centre particularly the village green and main street area, including the removal of a number of parking bays and the installation of traffic lights.

Both local councillors Fine Gael's Maria Murphy and Fianna Fáil's Damien O'Reilly were strongly opposed to the plans and were among the several hundred people to lodge an objection.

Cllr Damien O'Reilly said: "I’m in shock with the decision and will be appealing to An Bord Pleanála like many more concerned residents of Dunboyne."

Cllr Murphy said: "I'm very disappointed in the decision taken by Meath County Council. In my opinion there are a lot of questions to be asked and a lot of issues raised in the submissions which weren't addressed adequately in the planners report."

She added that she felt that further information should at least have been sought on these matters. Cllr Murphy said issues were raised over landowner consent, water services and traffic measures, as well as questions in relation to a part eight being required for changes the main street.

The planner in his report recommended that planning be granted subject to conditions and concluded that "the principle of development, design, and appearance of the proposed development is acceptable and would not have a harmful impact to the visual amenity of the surrounding area and would not cause any harmful impact to the residential amenity of neighbouring properties, would not create a traffic hazard and would not be likely to have significant effects on the environment or ecology of the area."

Among the conditions is that the car parking spaces to the side of the cafe and south elevation of the Lidl unit, a total of 20 spaces, be dedicated replacement car parking spaces for those lost in the main town centre area, and that these would not be subject to time limited restrictions unless agreed with the council.

However, Cllr Murphy described it a "pitiful attempt to deal with the reduction in parking" and described another condition regarding the sequencing of traffic lights as "laughable".