SITE The PJ Kelly site on the Castlebar Road in Westport. Pic: Google Maps
MAYO County Council has granted planning permission for a retail unit on the site of the old PJ Kelly hardware store despite its own planners’ reservations about traffic congestion.
PJ Kelly and Sons Ltd won planning permission to construct a large retail convenience store and three smaller retail units on the site of the former hardware business along the Castlebar Road in Westport.
PJ Kelly and Sons relocated the hardware business to a new site on the Newport Road at the end of July last year, and the company now plans to demolish the old hardware and storage buildings as well as dwellings to make way for the new development on a 0.8 hectare site.
The entrance of the store is located along the N5 on the Castlebar Road. With this in mind, the Road Design Office recommended refusal due to concerns about the impact the development would have in terms of traffic congestion for right-turning traffic entering and exiting the development.
Brendan Munnelly, Executive Planner with Mayo County Council, took these concerns on board and recommended refusal of planning permission due to traffic-congestion and public-safety concerns.
However, planning permission was granted for the development after Catherine McConnell, Director of Services for the West Mayo Municipal District, found in favour of it. In giving her reasons for not following Mr Munnelly’s recommendation, Ms McConnell stated that the existing N5 will be downgraded in approximately two years, with the flow of traffic along the road predicted to reduce as traffic diverts to the new N5.
She also added that adjustments to the traffic flow can be controlled using new traffic lights at the proposed entrance and exit to the site, linked to the existing set of traffic lights at the existing junction of Castlebar Street and Mill Street. The developer, she stated, would bear the costs associated with this arrangement.
Planning permission was granted subject to 13 conditions.
The granting of planning permission for a retail store will lead to increased speculation about which supermarket chain might look to locate to the new development. In the planning application, the developer stated that national convenience retail operators are eager to enter the market in Westport.
“Westport has three established national convenience retail operators in the town, but there are other national convenience retail operators who are eager to enter the market in Westport, and their presence will add to the level of choice for residents of the town,” said the planning statement, which was prepared by David Mulcahy, Planning Consultant on behalf of PJ Kelly and Sons Ltd.