'Very concerned' Laois County Council demands 'immediate attention' for derelict Portlaoise shopping centre

Conor Ganly

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Conor Ganly

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news@leinsterexpress.ie

'Very concerned' Laois County Council demands 'immediate attention' for derelict Portlaoise shopping centre

Gardaí in attendance at the Centrepoint complex last week where portacabins to the rear of the building went on fire

Laois County Council says it has responded to the fire at a derelict vacant shopping centre in Portlaoise by demanding that the owner take action.

The Council has also committed to carrying out an inspection at the former Centrepoint building with a view to following up with enforcement action.

Joe Delaney, Director of Services at the council's Housing Regeneration and Planning, is overseeing the measures to be taken by County Hall following a fire at the dangerous eyesore in recent days.

"The Council is very concerned following the fires earlier this week at the Centrepoint complex and as a result has arranged for an inspection by officials of the site today.

"The outcome of this inspection will be considered and follow up enforcement action pursued under the appropriate legislation.

"The Council has also been in contact with a representative of the owners of the site and requested immediate attention to the site given its current condition.

"The Centerpoint complex is entered on the Vacant Sites Register under the Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015. The Council will be pursuing this entry with the owners next week also in accordance with the aforementioned 2015 legislation," he said.

The Council has been actively trying to have the building made safe for a number of years. The first legal steps were taken when it was under the ownership of a Kylebeg limited which is linked to the Shaw family. Two orderers were made by An Bord Pleanála in 2019 - one declaring it vacant a second declaring that it should not be declared vacant.

A Board Pleanála Inspector described it as 'ruinous' following a visit to the property in 2019. It was found to be a location for anti-social behaviour at the time.

The owners of buildings placed on the Vacant Site Register are required to pay a charge on the value of a vacant property to the local authority.

The council said the building has changed hands since 2019 but declined to say who now owns the property. The condition of the building has worsened further since then. 

The County Laois Fire and Rescue Service told the Leinster Express that crews were called to two incidents at Centrepoint last Wednesday afternoon, March 26.

The first incident was at 1.35 pm with Portlaoise and Mountrath crews attending. The second call was received at 5 pm with Portlaoise and Mountmellick attending.

The second incident required two fire appliances, a water tanker and a hydraulic platform to extinguish a blaze in a portacabin that went on fire at the rear of the building which has been empty for a decade. The operation was completed at 7.15 pm.