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Schools join forces to try to block new McDonald's restaurant


Simon Harris

Simon Harris

Simon Harris

Three schools have combined to try to block McDonald's plans to build a new outlet.

Last month, Wicklow County Council gave the green light to the fast food giant to construct a new drive-through restaurant at the Blacklion centre at Greystones. The council gave the go-ahead in the face of widespread local opposition to the plan.

Previously, An Bord Pleanála refused McDonald's application for a drive-through at the site in January 2014, citing design issues and the proper planning and development of Blacklion.

Last November, McDonald's came back with a revised proposal incorporating a café, fitness studio and an expanded drive-through restaurant.

In response to the decision to grant planning, the boards of management of three nearby schools, Temple Carrig Secondary School, Gaelscoil na gCloch Liath and Greystones Educate Together, have lodged appeals against the decision to An Bord Pleanála.

Local TD Anne Ferris and some local residents have also appealed. Nine appeals have been lodged - including one from McDonald's itself, against a condition of planning.

An Bord Pleanála is due to make its ruling on the appeal later this year. Liam Friel, of the board of the Greystones Educate Together school, has argued that the location for the fast food outlet is unsuitable due to its proximity to the three schools, which will have a student population of 1,800 when fully operational.

The chairperson of the board of management of the Temple Carrig Secondary School, Garrett Fennell, stated: "We believe that the presence of a fast food restaurant offering cheap food offers for students at the school will present a constant pull both during school lunchtimes and after school hours."

Minister for State at the Department of Finance Simon Harris was one of those to lodge objections against the plan while it was before Wicklow County Council. In his objection dated last December, Mr Harris stated that Ireland has a high childhood obesity level.

He said that in March 2014, it was stated that an exclusion zone for fast food restaurants around schools and playgrounds was under consideration to tackle the national battle against obesity.

In its submission to the county council, McDonald's says the development will provide an enhanced range of services within the Blacklion centre to support the growing local community.

Irish Independent