POLITICIANS in Killarney have slated An Bord Pleanála for overturning Kerry County Council’s decision to refuse planning permission for a new multi-screen cinema complex in the town.
Construction work is progressing on the development at the former Torc Great Southern Hotel site, on Park Road, and the frame of the new building is already in place.
Despite Kerry County Council’s refusal, developer Torcbridge Ltd was later given the green light following an appeal to An Bord Pleanála.
The plan is for a 2,454sq.m two-storey building with five cinema screens, including a 300-seat Premium Large Format (PLF) screen theatre and four other screens, three of which will have 95 seats and the other with 119.
The development will also include a two-storey restaurant, to be operated independently but ancillary to the cinema, and car parking facilities for 200 vehicles.
Raising the issue at a meeting of Killarney Municipal District Council this Wednesday, Cllr Donal Grady remarked: “Shame on Bord Pleanála for allowing this monstrosity of a cinema to be built on the Park Road. It’s an awful eyesore”.
He said the people of Killarney must be reminded that the council had turned it down but the decision was overruled.
Cllr Maura Healy-Rae branded An Board Pleanála’s decision to overrule the council “a disgrace”.
“There is beautiful scenery coming out of Killarney blocked for evermore. The message has to go out that the council refused it but An Board Pleanála approved it,” she said.
Cllr Niall O’Callaghan said that a number of other projects that had been proposed for the area, including a children’s adventure facility, had been refused and he pointed to serious traffic congestion in the vicinity every Saturday and Sunday.
“At Christmas, cars were waiting 40 to 45 minutes to get out on to the main road from Tesco, even with three gardaí on duty there. This new development is going to create a huge traffic problem,” he said.
Cllr Marie Moloney said it was the local councillors that were getting the blame for the planning being granted even though the council had refused it and An Bord Pleanála decided otherwise.
Mayor of Killarney, Cllr Michael Gleeson, noted that there is already a very viable cinema business in Killarney and the owner had plans to redevelop it.
“The whole business will be impacted because of this,” he said.
The 6.5-acre site for the new cinema is located on the Park Road side of the railway bridge, directly opposite McDonald’s Restaurant and a Circle K outlet and adjacent to Killarney Outlet Centre.
The council’s initial refusal was on the grounds that it was an edge of town centre location and it would give rise to unsustainable single trip destination car journeys. It was also felt that it would damage the evening economy within the town core and it would be detrimental to its vitality and vibrancy.
The council’s decision was appealed to An Bord Pleanála, however, and it was subsequently overturned with permission granted, subject to conditions.
The planning inspector ruled that the proposed development would not seriously injure the amenities of the area or property in the vicinity, that it would not have an adverse impact on the vitality or viability of the town centre and it would not give rise to a traffic hazard or to traffic congestion.
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