Aldi on the horizon as Castlecomer area plan set for more consultation

Exciting times for the town

Sam Matthews

Reporter:

Sam Matthews

Email:

sam.matthews@kilkennypeople.ie

County hall

The initial six-week consultation period saw 28 submissions received in relation to the draft plan

The draft Castlecomer Area Plan is to go forward for a further period of public consultation, following a number of material alterations recommended after the first phase.

The initial six-week consultation period saw 28 submissions received in relation to the draft plan. A number of the submissions referred to a need for greater housing provision and zoning for residential development.

A number of the submissions objected to a proposal to turn Love Lane into a through-road, rather than the present cul-de-sac. The council has taken this into account, with the proposal dropped in the updated draft.

In its submission to the draft plan, Aldi Stores Ireland (Ltd) says it has identified a requirement for a store in ‘Comer, and requests the appropriate planning framework be put in place. With the deletion of the Love Lane link, the updated plan contains a recommendation to indicate a potential access to Chatsworth Street.

At last week’s meeting of Kilkenny County Council, the area’s councillors welcomed the chief executive’s report on the draft plan.

“These are exciting times for the town and it’s so important that we as a local authority continue to work hand in hand with all sectors of the community,” said Cllr Maurice Shortall.

“Key examples are the provision of the pedestrian bridge linking the Discovery Park and the town, provision of broadband — the new hotel owner says he will require a significant increase in megawatts for his business clientele online —a review of the traffic management plan for the town centre and the possible restoration of the fountain as a centre piece in the project.”

The Labour Party councillor also said if the Aldi proposal comes to fruition, the real plus would be its central location.

“These businesses will attract a number of employees outside of our town ,” he said, adding that providing sufficient housing would be key.

“Should they decide to live in say Athy or Carlow or Portlaoise then it will be to our detriment,” he said.

“Some of the sites zoned for housing may not happen for years, therefore I am asking for confirmation that we can make a case for additional zoning for houses based on need during the lifetime of the plan.”

Cllr John Brennan said he agreed with Cllr Shortall.

“It’s an opportunity now for Castlecomer and the surrounding areas to be looking at a new plan,” he said, adding that in the 1960s and 1970s, there were around 600 people employed in the mines.

“When it closed, it proved a major challenge,” he said.

“But the people had to fight back.”

The Fine Gael councillor said that factories had brought in 400 jobs in the 1990s, but they had then closed down:

“So the community had to fight back again. The people of ‘Comer didn’t lie down,” he said.

Senior planner Denis Malone said the proposed Aldi was likely to be about 1,100sqm and would not ‘draw people from everywhere’, but would be appropriate to the size of the town.