Business Irish

Saturday 17 November 2018

New Obama-style plaza part of council's plan to boost economy in Midlands

Barack Obama plaza in Moneygall
Barack Obama plaza in Moneygall
Louise Kelly

Louise Kelly

A Barack Obama-style plaza has been given the green light at a Laois site, part of the development of an enterprise park which aims to boost the region's economy.

Laois County Council have given conditional approval to planning, lodged by Supermac's owner Pat McDonagh, to build a two-storey retail building including a drive-thru and a six-pump forecourt.

The plaza, which is similar to the larger one based at Monegall, is expected to bring the second Supermacs outlet to Portlaoise.

It is part of a wider council-created plan for the Togher Enterprise Park, located at Junction 17 on the M7 Dublin-Limerick motorway.

The council said that the proposed development "represents a unique opportunity to develop a cluster of complementary enterprises and a larger, more robust and diverse economic basis for the town, county and region".

Mr McDonagh told Independent.ie that the granting of planning for the new plaza is a step in the right direction of the project's development.

"Any development has to start somewhere; this is an essential piece of infrastructure needed to secure the town’s role as the regional location for economic growth in the Midlands Area," he told Independent.ie.

"It's important for any venture like that to get the first few businesses up and running, so that the area can be seen on a wider scale as a good location."

Earlier this year, Glanbia selected the locality for their latest venture into mozzarella cheese production.

The company revealed that a new €130m manufacturing facility is to be built at Togher National Industrial Estate.

Read more: Supermac's €10m 'Obama-Plaza' plan is opposed by owner of Applegreen

The new facility will create around 78 full time jobs and is expected to begin production in 2020.

"When the development is up and running, it will provide a real alternative to help reduce the pressure on the Dublin region in terms of over development of the capital city," Mr McDonagh said.

Mr McDonagh is expecting that the planning decision as regards the new plaza will be appealed but, "all going well, we hope the full grant will be approved, allowing us to start construction in four months' time".

With an estimated completion date of early 2020, the new plaza is expected to create 60 construction jobs directly during this first phase, sub contractors excluded.

When the plaza is complete, at an expected cost of €10m, Mr McDonagh expects that between 80 and 100 employees will be required full-time.

"We'll hopefully develop that site down the line and there's potential for a hotel and event centre; one step at a time," he said,

Separately, the owner of the Applegreen brand is leading the charge against plans by Supermac's supremo Pat McDonagh to build a plaza serving the Limerick to Galway motorway.

The owner of the network of Applegreen service stations, Petrogas Group, has lodged a strident objection against the McDonagh plan.

It is bidding to locate a service station just off the motorway at Skehanagh outside Ennis on the M18.

As part of the proposal, Supermac's is planning to create 100 jobs during the project's operation phase. In its objection to Mr McDonagh's fresh plan, consultants for Petrogas claim that the proposal is contrary to national policy for motorway service stops.

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