The council have refused permission for a new gaming arcade on Portlaoise Main Street, following trenchant opposition to the plans from local businessmen.
Seven proprietors of businesses located in downtown Portlaoise signed a submission to Laois County Council, objecting to a proposal by Cork-based company Coalquay Leisure Ltd to convert no. 97 Main Street, a former clothes shop and now vacant premises, into a gaming arcade.
The submission was signed by Mr Alan Flynn (Flynn’s Menswear); Mr Willie Kerry (Bits & Bobs); Mr Tom Walsh (Ramsbottoms); Mr Richard Doyle (Doyle’s Shoe Shop); Mr Jim Murphy (Hughes Pharmacy); Mr Bryan Fergus (Fuji Shop); and Mr Pat Kearns (Cuddy & Kearns).
The submission was made on behalf of the businessmen by Mr Liam Ryan, Architectural Services, Main Street, Abbeyleix.
Mr Ryan said that the proposed location was “totally unsuitable” as the vacant premises are almost directly across the street from the building which will house the new Portlaoise library.
It was also asserted that the new arcade would likely lead to a rise in anti-social behaviour, and as it is in an area where people actually live is most unsuitable.
Mr Ryan also said that the gaming arcade would be a direct contravention of the County Development Plan, which states: “within in the commercial core of the town gaming arcades will not be permitted at ground floor”.
A further submission was made by Mr Michael Ryan, of 35 Main Street, Portlaoise, who said it was not an appropriate type of business for the Main Street. There was also a submission from Mr Vincent King, of Cartrontrey, Athlone, who felt the arcade would detract from “the vitality and vibrancy of the town centre”.
Mr King also pointed out that Portlaoise always has seven betting shops and this type of arcade “usually targets the young and vulnerable”.
Laois County Council have now refused company Coalquay Leisure Ltd permission for the proposed arcade.