Monday 19 November 2018

Appeal lodged against Fermoy arcade plan refusal

Bill Browne

The saga over the proposed development of an amusement arcade in Fermoy has taken something of an unexpected twist after it emerged the decision to refuse the facility planning permission has been appealed to An Bord Pleanála.

A total of 35 submissions had been lodged with the council against the plan to develop the arcade in an empty retail unit at the junction of the Duntahane and Cork Roads. 

Chief among the concerns of local people was that the facility would have been located within walking distance of a number of secondary and national schools.  As it transpired, council planners gave two reasons for refusing the application, the first being that the plans submitted did not "provide for adequate off-road parking facilities to serve the development". 

They also ruled that the siting of the arcade next to a busy signalised junction would generate pedestrian traffic across a busy road and would endanger public safety. 

However, the company has decided to fight the decision, lodging a lengthy appeal against the planning refusal with the appeals board just before the New Year. 

This despite the fact that a spokesman for the company behind the plan, Fun Factory Fermoy Ltd, part of the Perks Group, told The Corkman last November it was "unlikely" that they would appeal the council planners decision not to give it the go ahead. 

"At this stage it is unlikely that we will appeal the decision. We have plans for several facilities in other towns and we feel that we would be better served following these up. To be honest, we do not need the hassle," said Philip Tivy.

"Unless something radically changes, it is now looking like we will walk away from Fermoy altogether," he added. 

The appeal contains a comprehensive report compiled by chartered engineers and project managers CLC Associates. In addition to addressing the two reasons given by planners for refusing the planning application, the appeal also addressed a number of other issues raised by objectors, including noise emissions from the proposed arcade and the issue of potential anti-social behaviour.

In a statement included in the appeal, Perks said their policy for the last 88 years was not to accept or permit any anti-social behaviour "as shown by out other amusement entertainment centres". 

"The reality is that a business will not flourish if firm measures are not in place for the premises, both indoor and outdoor." 

They said a strict over 18's policy would be in place and those attempting to gain entry would be required to furnish photo ID, measures that would be enforced by trained security staff.  It said that the Perk's arcades located in both Youghal and Midleton were situated in highly residential areas and "no issues have been experienced with anti-social behaviour from the operation of the businesses." 

The objection documents can be viewed in full by visiting the planning section at  The Corkman was unable to contact a representative from Fun Factory Ltd at the time of going to press. 

The vice chair of the Fermoy Arcade Action Group, local Cork County Councillor Noel McCarthy, who was among those who objected to the original proposal, said people were surprised that the issue had come back under the spotlight.

"That said, we were on standby in case this would happen and have organised a public meeting next Wednesday at 8pm in Cóliaste an Chraoibhin for people to express their views," he said. 

Cllr McCarthy said nothing contained within the appeal documents would change the opinions of locals, who remain "totally opposed to the plan". 

"Again, one of our main concerns is that it would be located close to so many schools. As a group we will be making our own submissions to the appeals board against the arcade and I have no doubt other individuals will follow suit," he said.