Re: Re: Developments in Cork

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Lidl sparks row with councillors over planning

By Eoin English / Irish Examiner
RETAIL giant Lidl sparked a bitter row yesterday by accusing three councillors of interfering in the planning process for political reasons.

In a submission to An Bórd Pleanála, Lidl said it believes that Cork city councillors Jonathan O’Brien (SF), Damien Wallace and Tony Fitzgerald (FF) were “politically motivated” in their objections against a liquor licence for a store it is planing to build on the city’s northside.

The city’s 32 councillors have reacted furiously and are planning to write to Lidl calling on them to substantiate the claims or withdraw the suggestion.

It is the latest twist in Lidl’s two-year campaign to secure a rezoning of industrial land for the store in Churchfield.

The council voted 26 to two in December to rezone the land, clearing the way for the store.

But they attached two conditions as part of the planning — one that prevents the granting of a liquor licence which would allow the sale of wine only, and one directing a change to the location of the entrance road.

Lidl appealed both, along with 16 other conditions imposed by city planners, to An Bórd Pleanála last month.

Details of that appeal lodged on behalf of Lidl by Dublin-based architects Kenny Lane Associates, emerged yesterday.

In it, they single out Cllrs O’Brien, Wallace and Fitzgerald for criticism.

They outlined to the board a previous campaign against a liquor licence sought by a nearby Centra store where residents objected and requested the support of councillors.

The courts refused that licence.

“In order to be consistent, local councillors inserted condition 2a [preventing the liquor licence] as part of our client’s planning permission,” the firm said.

“However, our client feels that the views expressed by local councillors are politically motivated, as they are attempting to be consistent with previous action taken in relation to the Centra Supermarket.

“Our client would further argue that An Bórd Pleanála should not uphold a politically-motivated stance on the liquor licence.”

Mr O’Brien said he was very annoyed with the claim. “This was a decision of the council — not a decision the three of us took on our own,” he said.

“Lidl of course has the right to appeal but they have created an image to the board that this was done by a small number of councillors.”

Mr Fitzgerald said he was elected to represent the views of local people, who want a Lidl store but not one with a liquor licence.

There are more than 20 off-licences in the general Knocknaheeny, Churchfield, Hollyhill and Farranree areas.

There are two secondary schools and three primary schools within walking distance of the proposed store.

But in its appeal, Lidl outlines a range of measures, including a hi-tech CCTV system it says will help prevent underage drinking and anti-social behaviour.

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