Monday 14 October 2019

Declaration sought on retail park site

Latest twist in Meadows & Byrne saga

David Tucker

A WEXFORD-based store applied for a declaration to the borough council in relation to a development without the knowledge of the owners of a site at Drinagh or of Meadows and Byrne which has permission for a lifestyle centre there.

However, any person is entitled to apply for a Section 5 ruling.

Barkers (Wexford) Ltd. had asked the council for a Section 5 Declaration on the development, although it has no connection with Meadows and Byrne.

In its application, Barkers asked whether a subdivision of the unit would be considered an exempted development, however, according to the planning files, this was not raised by Meadows and Byrne.

Responding to Barkers, the council decided that it would not constitute exempt development and therefore planning permission would be required.

Neither of the principals involved in the development are aware as to why Barkers' application was submitted and Barkers did not respond to a request for a comment by this newspaper.

Up to 70 jobs will be created if the lifestyle centre, which includes Meadows and Byrne, a restaurant and a garden centre, gets the go ahead, however, a decision on it is currently in the hands of An Bord Pleanala because of objections to the restaurant aspect of the development.

According to architects for Meadows and Byrne, Lennon O'Keefe Design Architects, Barkers (Wexford) Ltd. submitted the application for a Section 5 ruling on the site, 'without the knowledge or consent of the owner of the site'.

The proposed development is before An Bord Pleanala following objections by Billy Devereux, of the Farmer's Kitchen , and Cathal Fanning, of Drinagh Garden Centre, who are both objecting to the restaurant change of use.

According to the planning files at Wexford Borough Council, a copy of which has been seen by this newspaper, Barkers (Wexford) employed Doyle Kent Planning Partnership, of Blackrock, Co. Dublin, to submit their application.

The same planning consultants were employed by Billy Devereux to submit his objection to the restaurant application for change of use.

A decision is due to be made on the restaurant change of use by May 23, although this is not a given because of the pressure of work faced by An Bord Pleanala.

Last year, the borough council granted a Section 5 declaration to Meadows and Byrne that their use of the building in Drinagh did not require any special planning permission.

Section 5 applications cannot be appealed by a third party, only by an applicant, and although they they are a public file, they are not publicly advertised.

In its application, submitted by Doyle Kent, Barkers (Wexford) questioned whether the sub-division of Unit A, Drinagh Retail Park, is or not exempted development and whether the use of part of the unit by Meadows and Byrne is or not development and if it is development, whether or not is exempted development.

In their submission, Doyle Kent state that in relation to the original Section 5 granted to Meadows and Byrne 'we respectfully do not agree with the conclusions reached'.

In its ruling, the council says that ' the proposed subdivision.. as outlined by Barkers (Wexford) Ltd. contravenes a condition attached to Planning Register No. 20073920 and therefore does not constitute exempted development'.

In the file covering the Barkers (Wexford) application at the borough council, the planner' s report says, 'the proposal to subdivide was never raised in the Section 5 declaration (in the Meadows and Byrne application) but it is specifically referred to in this application. I consider it would be unwise and unsafe to issue a declaration of exempted development on the basis of this ambiguous information'.

Under plans which were given the green light by the council last year, Meadows and Byrne would be the anchor tenant, Hennessy's Garden Centre in Kilkenny would run their own operation within and without it and well-known Rosslare hotelier Bill Kelly would run the restaurant.

There are fears that if An Bord Pleanala rules against the plans for the restaurant and leaves the complex empty it will effectively send a message that Wexford is closed for business and will cost 70 jobs.

Meadows and Byrne is understood to still be enthusiastic about the creation of the lifestyle centre as a single entity with the three operations running within it.

Wexford People