Council says 'No' to 'Rockin Joes'
Wexford County Council has rejected a planning application for an American-style diner to be built in the former Ned Buggy premises between Selskar Street and the old town library.
Planners said it would have breached a policy barring non-retail uses at street level in the town and it would have had an adverse effect on local residents.
Limerick businessmen Brian Dunne and Joseph O'Riordan, from 'Rockin Joes', partnered with Wexford businessman Rob Murphy, from Abrekakebra in North Main Street, to create the new business, which would have been the 11th in the rapidly-expanding 'Rockin Joes' chain.
Back in August, Mr Dunne said he hoped to get planning permission within three months and hoped to be open by summer in 2016.
He said around €250,000 would be invested in the new business which would create 20 jobs. The diner would cover some 2,500 square feet.
The company already has a similar diner in Waterford and decided on Wexford for its next step after looking at the town and forming the opinion that there was a gap in the market for their casual dining restaurant concept in the town.
'The only thing that would stop us from coming to Wexford is planning,' said Mr Dunne at the time, with a nod to other similar past planning applications which were rejected by planners because they too would have necessitated a change of use from retail at street level.
In its reason for refusal of planning, the council said the proposed development would be contrary to Policy R1 of the county development plan, whereby development of non-retail uses at street level is not permitted within the core retail area.
Another was that the development would have an adverse effect on the residential amenity of residents in the immediate vicinity of the site.
Submissions on the application were made by Thomas and Zandra Bierney, Key Largo, Selskar Street, who raised issues surrounding late night noise and by John Fortune, submitted on his behalf by Jane Doyle, the Doyle Kent Planning Partnership, who said the site is in an area of Wexford which has suffered from a high vacancy of shop units during the economic turndown and a loss of retail business through leakage to retail parks on the edge of town and beyond in recent times.
'The town of Wexford is already well served by existing restaurants and takeways and there will be a knock on effect on the vitality of the town centre if more shop units are permitted to change to restaurant use.'
'We consider that the change of use of this ground floor shop unit to a restaurant will have negative impact on the vitality and viability of the fore retail shopping area of Wexford town and request that planning permission be refused for this change of use application.'
An objection submitted by John Mahon, of Mahon and Fox, on behalf of James and Sylvia O'Connor, who own a residental property directly above the proposed development, said this part of the town was already well catered for in respect of food outlets having a diner with late opening hours would not be conducive to the promotion of rejuvenating urban main street residential living. They also raised concerns over the potential noise and nuisance with the observation that some of Rockin Joe's diner outlets are open as late as 3 a.m. and 4 a.m, at weekends and a concentration of food outlets would lead to heightened social nuisance.