Dunnes Stores faces Graiguecullen closure

DUNNES Stores could have to close have its shop in Graiguecullen after being refused permission to retain a clothing department at the Graigue Business park.

DUNNES Stores could have to close have its shop in Graiguecullen after being refused permission to retain a clothing department at the Graigue Business park.

An Bord Pleanala has refused permission after agreeing with a report from its planning inspector who visited the site last November. The Board that the centre would have an "adverse impact on the vitality and viability of Carlow Town Centre."

The other reason that the board gave for refusing permission was in relation to the extra traffic which the development would generate.

The chain, which employs over 100 people in the Graigue, was originally refused permission to extend the supermarket to sell drapery and hardware in 2005 when An Bord Pleanla overturned the council's decision to grant permission.

But Dunnes later began to use part of its premises for retail. The unauthorised use of the warehouse was brought to the attention of Laois County Council, in 2009, by Simon Clear and Associates, on behalf of the Naus Group. It plans an extensive development which includes retail space, offices, apartments and a 153 bedroom hotel along the Barrow Track.

Warning Letters were issued by County Hall to the Directors of Dunnes Stores and Redhill Properties Ltd regarding the unauthorised use of Unit 6.

In August 2009, Opperman architects, on behalf of Dunnes Stores, lodged a planning application with Laois County Council to retain the change of use of the current drapery section.

Simon Clear and associates objected to the application, raising three issues: the unauthorised change of use from bulky goods to comparison or commercial retailing, the unauthorised removal of the partition wall, and the previous decision of An Bord Pleanala to refuse a similar development.

Last August, 12 months after the application had been initially lodged, Laois County Council granted permission to Dunnes Stores to retail the drapery section at their Graigue Store, but Simon Clear appealed their decision to An Bord Pleanala.