Thursday 12 December 2019

Farmers fail to halt Aldi mart site store

Gordon Deegan

Aldi has received the green light to extend its Irish network after securing planning for a store in the Clare market and heritage town of Ennistymon.

Aldi had faced opposition from local farmers who remain angry that Clare Marts Ltd sold the old mart site in Ennistymon to the German retailer.

In 2014, Clare Marts sold the site for a price believed to be around €1.5m.

At one stage farmers held a silent protest outside a Clare Marts board meeting.

Last year, Aldi announced the creation of a further 400 jobs as it confirmed plans to open seven outlets this year to add to its 122-store network.

The most recent survey from Kantar Worldpanel estimates that Aldi has a 7.4pc share of the Irish multi-billion euro grocery market. The retail impact assessment lodged with the Ennistymon proposal estimates the annual turnover of the new store at €9m.

The decision by An Bord Pleanála to give the Ennistymon plan the go-ahead is in contrast to its decision to refuse planning to an Aldi store for Killaloe earlier this month for site-specific reasons. Clare County Council gave the Aldi Ennistymon plan the go-ahead last year.

However, the decision was appealed by three parties, including The Save Ennistymon Mart Committee and former FF mayor of Clare Flan Garvey.

The Bord Pleanála inspector in the Ennistymon case said the plan "is a good quality development that would increase competitiveness in the retail sector without being detrimental to the town centre in terms of viability or vitality".

At the oral hearing into the case last year, locals raised concerns that there may be a possible burial ground for unbaptised babies at the south western portion of the site.

In response, the inspector said "this is a sensitive issue". If it transpires that a burial ground is found at the location, then the interment of the remains to a marked plot, where people can pay their respects, is a more appropriate solution as the current site is covered over with hard core with no markings or no acknowledgement of its existence.

As a result, the appeals board has ordered that Aldi will facilitate the preservation and protection of archaeological features at the site.

Irish Independent

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