Plans for a new cinema at Dundalk Retail Park have been given the go ahead by An Bord Pleanála.
Last November, Dundalk Town Council granted planning permission to David Carson, the receiver and manager over Finnabair Estates Limited (who are in receivership), to convert three units at the retail park into a cinema.
The units in question – 2, 3 and 4 – were all formerly occupied by Harvey Norman, who closed its doors in Dundalk at the start of last summer.
However, in early December appeals against the decision of the local authority were lodged by the Marshes Shopping Centre – who also have plans for a cinema in the town which are also subject to approval by An Bord Pleanála – and IMC Cinema, who operate the town’s only current cinema at Carroll Village.
Both objectors said they felt that the proposed cinema would have an “impact on the functionality and viability” of the Retail Park and have “consequences for the future provision of retail warehousing in Dundalk”.
They pointed out that An Bord Pleanála have shown precedence in refusing permission for similar cinema proposals in retail parks and also claim that the proposal is “contrary to principles of sustainable land use and transportation, including the Government’s Smarter Travel policies.”
However, earlier this month An Bord Pleanála decided to grant permission with revised conditions. They found that “the proposed development would not seriously injure the amenities of the area, would be acceptable in terms of its impact on the vitality and viability of Dundalk town centre, would be acceptable in terms of traffic safety and convenience and would be in accordance with the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.”
Conditions issued relate to water drainage, signage, shutters and opening hours but are unlikely to hinder plans for a new cinema at the former Harvey Norman units.
The proposal for the Retail Park would see a seven screen cinema built including an entrance foyer with ticket kiosk, food and beverage stalls, a coffee shop, service and ciculation areas and toilets.
A new main entrance would also be created at unit 2, closing off the entrances to units 3 and 4. There are also proposals for new emergency exits and for the construction of an internal wall between units 4 and 5 to facilitate unit 5 to operate as a standalone retail warehouse unit.