The elected members of Kilkenny Borough Council, who originally refused permission for the High Street Mall development, have remained unwavering in their conviction that an amusement arcade has no place in the city centre.
Councillors last week were united in their condemnation of An Bord Pleanala’s decision to overrule them and allow the project to proceed. Mayor Sean O’ hArgain that the level of public opposition to the scheme demonstrates the need for an urgent review of the country’s planning legislation.
The members each offered their thoughts on An Bord Pleanala’s decision.
Mayor Sean O’ hArgain: “I’m extremely disappointed to hear this, and I have had a colossal amount of calls from city centre traders and citizens who are completely taken aback. I would appeal to Melcorpo not to go ahead with the gaming arcade, in light of the huge public opposition to it.”
Cllr Martin Brett (FG): “Our original decision [to refuse permission] was not wrong. We did our best, but An Bord Pleanala obviously saw things in a different light and now Kilkenny is worse off as a result.”
Cllr John Coonan (FF): “This is something Kilkenny doesn’t want, and doesn’t need. We already have plenty of places for amusement and recreation, etc. We are not Tramore – this city is different, it has a special offering of living, of leisure, of tourism.”
Cllr Paul Cuddihy (FG): “I think it is inappropriate for High Street, but if this is what An Bord Pleanala has decided, and it’s within the planning laws, there is nothing we can do. I would hope that whatever is put in, it doesn’t take away from the streetscape and that the developer would be mindful of the other people in the location who have worked hard to build up their businesses.”
Cllr David Fitzgerald (FG): “I’m totally against it. It is not the right location for something like this.”
Cllr Marie Fitzpatrick (Lab): “I am very disappointed with the Board overturning our decision. I think, as elected representatives, we should have a say as to what goes into our city. I don’t feel this will do anything to support Kilkenny City.”
Cllr Kathleen Funchion (SF): “This goes against what the majority would like. I’m sure there are better options to go into an important space in the heart of the city.”
Cllr Jimmy Leahy (FG): “I don’t think this is good for the city, and I don’t think it’s good for tourism. I don’t support it, and I think the location is a disaster.”
Cllr Joe Malone (FF): “I think this is very wrong. There are 1500 young people in schools nearby who will be attracted in to spend their money. Also, Bord Failte have spent substantial money on a Medieval Mile, and now we will have this in the middle of it..”
Cllr Andrew McGuinness (FF): “I’m totally against it because it gives children nothing; it just sucks up their money. It is not suitable where it is going to go and it is bad news for the other businesses in that block in terms of footfall.”
Cllr Malcolm Noonan (Green): “This is not the type of development we want in the city centre. I would question the decision making of An Bord Pleanala in going against the local authority in this case.”
Cllr Joe Reidy (FF): “I am against it – it should not be happening. What amazes me is that we tried to protect against this sort of thing in our area plan. It is not suitable for the centre of our city.”