Chairman of Ballina Trades Council Matt Farrell believes that planning authorities are ignoring the benefits of a proposed ‘drive-thru’ McDonald’s for Ballina.
The drive-through fast-food restaurant was to be situated on the site currently occupied by the derelict Deanwood Hotel on Bury Street. However, planning representatives feared that it would have a negative impact on the value of buildings in the area.
The scale of the project, increased noise levels, increased traffic congestion, littering and fast food odours were just some of the reasons given when planning permission was refused before Christmas. However, according to Mr Farrell, these issues have been overstated.
Farrell said that the decision to refuse the project – which would have created 70 jobs during the building phase and a further 70 once building was complete – was ‘worrying’ in light of the fact that over 3,300 people are unemployed in Ballina. Farrell also pointed to the restaurant’s innovative design and its relatively early closing time of 11pm as positives.
Mr Farrell is concerned that the planning refusal will send the wrong message to other businesses looking to expand or establish a presence in the town. “We need to be careful of the perception (whether true or not) that Ballina is not open for additional business. We need to strive to be seen as a town that is willing to develop our existing business and welcome new enterprise.” He said it was important that Ballina was not stuck with the label of “the town that holds a quarter of all the unemployed of Mayo county.”
An appeal against the planning refusal must be lodged with An Bord Pleanála by Wednesday, January 11.