Amid claims of a potential threat to the future of existing fuel retailers in the area, Letterkenny Town Councillor, Jim Lynch, has questioned the granting of planning permission to Tesco Ireland for a proposed four island petrol filling station on a site on the Port Road.
During a brief debate on the subject at Monday night’s meeting of the Town Council, County Manager, Seamus Neely voiced criticism of cllr. Lynch for forcing the issue with the Authority’s planning officer, Ruth Diver.
The independent councillor raised the matter on two occasions during the meeting and queried as to whether the planners had examined the County Retail Plan which, he insisted, the decision to grant planning to Tesco contravened.
But as he addressed the Council’s planning official, Mr. Neely intervened, pointing out that he could not accept a situation where the competence of staff was being discussed at a public meeting, particularly when the comments were incorrect.
Permission was granted to Tesco for the construction of a filling station incorporating a kiosk and a forecourt canopy.
The development will involve the widening of the existing access road to a two-lane access road and the closing of a number of existing car parking entrances at the Letterkenny Shopping Centre to improve queuing distances. A reorganisation of part of the existing car park of the Shopping Centre will also be necessary to facilitate the proposal, involving the loss of 26 car parking spaces in the area.
Highlighting the issue at the outset of this week’s meeting under Manager’s Orders, cllr. Lynch questioned why the application also involved the demolition of Tinney’s shed at the site.
Later, the councillor tabled a question to the meeting asking if the planning section had considered connecting factors such as parking for taxis and Bus Eireann, the County Retail Plan, congested traffic tail backs, the dangers of additional in town fuel storage, and the potential threat to existing fuel retailers.
Cllr. Lynch claimed a number of the existing petrol stations could be affected by the decision, resulting in the loss of employment.
Town Mayor, cllr. Gerry McMonagle suggested that cllr. Lynch take an opportunity to review the relevant file with the planning officials.