The company which bought Redmond Square shopping centre in Wexford and developed the Arc Cinema has been granted planning permission to open a cafe/restaurant in a vacant premises beside Wexford Railway Station, despite a number of objections.
Planners imposed a condition whereby the developers Melcorpo Commercial Properties must submit details of a required 2.4m boundary beside the adjoining railway station site before any refurbishment work commences, in the interest of public safety.
The exact location of the boundary must be identified in consultation with the Iarnród Eireann Infrastructure Office.
A proposal by Melcorpo for an illuminated sign and fascia over the front of the cafe was rejected by the planning department for reasons of neighbouring amenity and traffic safety.
Iarnród Éireann had concerns about safety as the gable end of the premises at Unit 8 in Redmond Square is directly adjacent to a railway goods entrance and fence beside O'Hanrahan Station platform while the Dragon Heen restaurant is on the other side. The premises was formerly a sportswear shop.
Melcorpo applied for permission for a change of use from retail to cafe/restaurant with a new shopfront and illuminated signage along with a new fire escape door and a canvas awning.
Iarnród Éireann requested the provision of a new boundary to prevent access onto the railway and also asked for a restriction on the level of lighting.
Additional submissions were received from a local resident and a business person who maintained that the proposed cafe is in contravention of the Town Plan.
The objectors pointed out that the applicants already have planning permission for two other restaurants/cafes at unit 4 and unit 6 within the same shopping centre block that are both vacant.
The building's proximity to Auburn Terrace which is of historical architectural significance, was also raised, along with the unsuitability of illuminated lighting in the area.
However, an executive planner who dealt with the application said the proposal is in line with guidelines given the location as a public transportation hub serving the Wexford town and hinterland.
'I consider on balance that a cafe/restaurant directly adjacent to the train station, bus station and taxi rank where passengers may be required to wait for long periods, would provide a much-needed respite area for passengers in the immediate vicinity', said the planning inspector.
'The existing retail premises has been vacant for a considerable time on and off over the past few years. It's directly beside and clearly visible to people exiting the station. The other vacant restaurant units are around the corner and have not been as attractive or visible to people leaving the station', she added in her report.
She added that while there is a cafe adjacent to McCauley's Pharmacy across the road, she considered that the busy road with heavy traffic would be a barrier for the elderly, parents with small children and wheelchair users.
The executive planner ruled that illuminated signage is not acceptable, having regard to shopfront and streetscape guidelines in the Town Plan.
The restaurant will be allowed to open from Monday to Friday, 8am to 11.30 pm on Saturdays from 9am to 11.30pm and Sundays and bank holidays from 10 am to 11.30 pm.
It will not be allowed to serve hot food for take-away.