Wednesday 23 October 2019

Meadows and Byrne store on the way – with 70 jobs

David Tucker

THE Meadows and Byrne lifestyle development at Drinagh has been given the go-ahead following months of uncertainty after two businesses objected to plans passed by the borough council.

THE Meadows and Byrne lifestyle development at Drinagh has been given the go-ahead following months of uncertainty after two businesses objected to plans passed by the borough council.

At least 70 jobs are likely to be created at the development, which is now scheduled to open in October, in advance of this year's Wexford Festival Opera.

The last issues holding up the development, objections to a restaurant change of use at the site and alterations and additions to signage, were cleared away by An Bord Pleanala last Thursday.

'An Bord Pleanala has vindicated the positive decision of Wexford Borough Council in granting this planning permission,' said Barry Kehoe, from Kehoe and Associates Auctioners who put the deal together.

'This would have been democracy gone wrong in these very difficult times if objectors had managed to block this project, prevent job creation and send out a message that Wexford is only for the locals,' he said.

'The three operators are very excited at the news and are very enthusiastic about getting this up and running.

'There is a considerable build and fit-out involved and the target date is October 1, before the (Wexford Opera) Festival.'

The actual permission from An Bord Pleanala allows for a 'change of use of part of Unit A to restaurant; modifications to elevation to include additional signage; erection of translucent covers to part of garden centre. It's very good news for County Wexford and its local economy,'' said Mr. Kehoe.

'At least 70 jobs will be created when this destination centre opens,' he said.

'Meadows and Byrne, Hennessy's Garden Centre and Kelly's Resort Hotel are leaders in their specific areas and will enhance Wexford as a shopping experience for locals ad visitors.'

Saying the work would start within the next few weeks, Mr. Kehoe said a massive hurdle had been jumped.

The objections were lodged by Billy Devereux of the Farmer's Kitchen Hotel and Cathal Fanning of Drinagh Garden Centre, against permission granted to applicant John Kearney, of Curragraigue, Enniscorthy, to renovate the building at Drinagh for use as a 'home store' by Blarney Woollen Mills, trading as 'Meadows and Byrne'.

The building was most recently used as the site for the popular Drinagh Market, and prior to the objections being lodged, it had been hoped that it could open in its new guise by St Patrick's weekend.

Both Mr Devereux and Mr Fanning had also lodged objections with Wexford County Council prior to the decision to grant permission for the project.

Mr Devereux's objection letter, written in November, cited the development's close proximity to the Rosslare roundabout as one of the reasons for his objection.

He also stated that the 'proposed overflow car park will encourage people and in particular children to traverse roads and foot paths which are designed to facilitate heavy vehicles, delivery trucks, vans and cars.'

Similarly he claimed that 'a re-zone of this area outside the town centre would adversely affect Wexford'.

Mr Fanning said in his objection letter that 'the proposed garden centre is in an area which is already well serviced by other existing businesses'.

He also claimed that the new development 'will have a detrimental effect on these businesses in this current financial economic climate'.

Another reason given for his objection was that the location is 'currently the main access route to Rosslare Harbour, which when coupled with what is proposed, will place a serious extra burden in relation to the facilitation of the existing traffic'.

Despite these objections, the borough council granted a Section 5 declaration which cleared the way for the development, however, objections to An Bord Pleanala over the restaurant change of use meant plans to open the premises by St. Patrick's Day had to be put on hold.

The only outstanding issue dealt with by An Bord Pleanala last week, and that which had held up progress for the past few months, was an appeal by the two businesses against the change of use.

Those involved in the project had said the scheme would not go ahead if it could not proceed as a three-strand development, combining the garden centre, restaurant and lifestyle store.

Cathal Fanning said he had no comment to make when contacted by this newspaper following the An Bord Pleanala ruling.

Barkers (Wexford) Ltd. which recently lost an application for a Section 5 declaration on part of the Meadows and Byrne develepment, was asked for a comment but did not respond.

Wexford People

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