Laois Supermac's motorway filling station pushed back by planning appeals

Michelle Hogan

Reporter:

Michelle Hogan

Laois Laois Laois Laois

Claims of ‘flawed’ design and doubling up on motorway services are behind appeals against Supermac’s supremo Pat McDonagh’s €10 million Obama Plaza style service station at Togher, Portlaoise.

James Warren from  Kilcullen, Kildare has appealed McDonagh’s motorway filling station plans and recommended that the local authority refuse permission for the M7 Junction 17 development.

“The proposed was designed on a flawed format to start with and attempting to fit the proposal into a new technical format is not working. Simply trying to fit the shortcomings of the original proposal is not acceptable,” he said in the written appeal.

Mr Warren claims that the design process was such that the site area, access point and overall shape are the reasons for the layout not working properly.

Petrogas Ltd operates Applegreen filling station services. It has the green light for a motorway filling station at the nearby Midway. It says the Supermac’s owner has never addressed the point that their development would replicate its project.

“Whilst in many ways more choice for the consumer can only be a good thing, the sustainability of another major service area facility at the same location providing more or less the same services, but without the local or national infrastructure upgrades previously and currently considered necessary for its introduction, is an area of some concern,” it said.

The case is currently ongoing with An Bord Pleanala.

The appeals against the huge Togher Obama Plaza style filling station development are just an attempt to slow the process down according to Supermac's supremo Pat McDonagh.

Speaking to the Leinster Express when planning permission was approved, Mr McDonagh said he expected work to start on site within six months.

Now, because of the planning appeals, he says the plans could be kicked down the road for another year before any work starts.

He is confident that despite the appeals, he will eventually be granted planning permission and his plans will go ahead.

The Galway native, who also owns a Supermac’s restaurant and The Killeshin Hotel in Portlaoise, said he is disappointed but not surprised that appeals have been lodged, particularly by the rival filling station Applegreen.

“I am disappointed it happened but I am not surprised either because that seems to be the modus operandi of that particular company and we aren't the first to be objected by them and we won’t be the last.

“I see they have about 24 objections at various filling stations and motor services around the country over the last two years so it was probably inevitable that it would happen here because they appealed our planning permission in Ennis before and it’s disappointing because it slows down the process. For one objector to slow down a fairly big development is a bit disappointing but that’s life, that’s the way it is and that’s the way the system is.

“In some cases it’s because it’s vexatious, in some cases there are people hoping they will get paid off to take off the objection, in some cases it’s a situation where it’s genuine, that’s fair enough a genuine objections to a planning permission for whatever reason but it seems to be more prevalent, I think more people are more knowledgeable and it is more transparent,” he said.

“The customer should have a choice of where they want to go and really that's what keeps the business competitive, you need to have a situation where businesses are competitive, it keeps everyone honest,” Mr McDonagh said.

Supermac's Togher filling station development in Portlaoise could create up to 200 jobs, including up to 140 full and part-time jobs in shops and restaurants on site and 60-80 construction jobs on the ground as the facility is built.

Pat McDonagh plans to invest over €10 million into the development if its get the go-ahead from An Bord Pleanala.

In granting permission for the new motorway service station at Togher, Laois County Council imposed 20 conditions on the grant of permission, with the developer to pay to the council a development contribution of €27,791.

Plans for Togher include a drive-thru and a six-pump forecourt with an overhead canopy and huge floor area of 1220 square metres.

Mr McDonagh has developed The Barack Obama Plaza off the M7 at Moneygall, Tipperary Town Plaza, Mallow N20 Plaza and Junction 16 Kiltullagh Plaza and has plans underway for further filling stations at Ennis, Longford and Kinnegad in County Westmeath.