PLANNERS working on behalf of the backers of the Meadows and Byrne development at Drinagh have rejected claims made in an appeal to An Bord Pleanala on behalf of Wexford town store Barkers Ltd.
They say the Barkers' appeal appears to be part of an overall strategy to prevent Meadows and Byrne opening a store there.
Up to 70 jobs will be created when the development opens later in the year.
Hotelier Bill Kelly, Hennessy's Garden Centre and Meadows and Byrne all plan to operate out of the development, which sits on a prominent site at the Rosslare Road roundabout and has been largely under-used since it was built several years ago.
An Bord Pleanala had asked the development's backers if they if wished to respond to the appeal by Barkers, through their planning consultants, questioning the basis under which Meadows and Byrne is being allowed to trade.
In the response to An Bord Pleanala, the developer's planning consultant Ian Doyle says that prior to the discussion of the Section 5 application – submitted by Barkers – it is important that the appeals board is aware of the background:
'Firstly, this application has been made without the consent of the landowner or Meadows and Byrne.
'Secondly, the application is a direct response to a Section 5 declaration permitted by the planning authority.
'Finally, this application would appear to be part of an overall strategy by Doyle/Kent planning consultants on behalf of Asple and Co./Barkers to prevent Meadows and Byrne opening a store at this location.
It is further noted by Ian Doyle that while Asples or Barkers were not the appellants of a recent application for a restaurant on the subject site, Doyle-Kent were the planning consultants.'
Barkers (Ltd) had submitted an appeal to An Bord Pleanala to ask for a ruling that the subdivision of the centre and its use by Meadows and Byrne is not exempted development. The Barkers' appeal questions earlier decisions by the Borough Council. In the appeal to An Bord Pleanala, Barkers say the broad range of goods normally sold at Meadows and Byrne outlets would constitute a material change of use of the Drinagh unit and would therefore be development, not exempted development. It also sets out its concerns about the effect on town centres of out of town developments.
In the response, Ian Doyle says Drinagh Retail Park has been the subject of a number of planning applications for non-bulky uses such as a dance studio.
'None of these uses have eroded the retail function of the retail park as envisaged by the planning permission as no reduction in retail floor area has occurred.'
In several sections, Ian Doyle quotes back an Bord Pleanala's inspector's comments to previous appeals as answers to issues raised in the Barkers' appeal.
An Bord Pleanala had ruled against objections to the development submitted by Cathal Fanning from Drinagh Garden Centre and Billy Devereux, from The Farmers Kitchen.
Mr. Devereux has since reversed his opposition to the development and now says he is looking forward to working with the three principals for the betterment of the Drinagh area.