Shop complex to create 1 ,000 jobs
The €200m Coonagh Cross Shopping Centre, given the green light by An Bard Pleamila this week, will create almost I 1,000 jobs and generate €22m in wages annually for the I Limerick region, according to the developers.
Chieftain Construction boss and international yachtsman Ger 0' Rourke said the 22,000 square metre retail, leisure and entertainment complex,on a 39 acre site, should be open for business late next year.
Tesco's have been confirmed as the anchor tenant at Coonagh Cross; an eight-screen cinema is also to be built.
The development was granted permission by Limerick County Council but Limerick City Council argued that the centre was not part of the local authorities' joint retail strategy.
Limerick is now to have its fourth suburban shopping centre and retail and grocers group RGDATA had opposed the plans over fears it would affect city centre retailers.
Limerick City Council have seen the decision as further evidence that a boundary extension was needed for Limerick.
But the board found that the development would not damage Limerick city centre as the prime location for shoppers in the region.
And Mr O'Rourke argued he was only meeting the demand for muchneeded retail space on the north side of the city.
"The business rationale for Coonagh Cross is supported by analyst research pointing to the need to provide world class facilities for growing levels of consumer demand in the region," he said.
"We are bringing a mix of major Irish and international retail, leisure and entertainment brands to Limerick. We will draw significant additional business to the city. This combined with the 950 new jobs we are creating, will undoubtedly produce an economic multiplier effect for the region as a whole," he said.
Next to the NI8 Limerick to Galway road, the site will have "unrivalled links" to the national road network when phase two of the Southern Ring Road is complete, according to Chieftain.
While the planning appeals board's inspector had initially recommended refusing permission, the board found that revised plans submitted by Chieftain did not constitute overdevelopment.
It is the second time in a matter of weeks An B6rd Pleanala has overlooked its own inspector's recommendation to refuse permission to a major retail development on the north side of the city. Residents of Ashbrook, Ennis Road, are understood to be mounting a legal challenge to Callerview Properties' plans to build a retail park next to their estate.
An B6rd Pleanala gave that project the go-ahead in April.