OMNIPLEX PLANS NEW RESTAURANT
THE Omniplex Cinema in Wexford has re-applied for planning permission to build a new restaurant 18 months after Wexford County Council turned down a similar expansion proposal by the owners.
Paul and Margaret Anderson, directors of Omniplex Holdings Unlimited who own the 8-screen cinema in Drinagh, are seeking permission to build a 381 square metre restaurant beside the premises.
They have also applied for the retention of 146 car parking spaces which have already been constructed.
Back in November 2016, Wexford County Council turned down an application by the cinema to build four new units including a restaurant and leisure/entertainment facilities along with a 146-space car park on the grounds that the area is zoned for mixed commercial use rather than leisure.
At the time, the planners also said the design and layout didn’t meet the standard required for a building adjacent to the Rosslare Road and suggested the area needed a much stronger design approach.
The cinema had applied for a new car park to serve the proposed new development and to take a frequent overflow from the cinema which has 200 existing spaces.
Senior planner Diarmuid Houston had commented that a restaurant would be permitted under mixed commercial zoning but leisure use would not. The cinema development at Drinagh was considered to be acceptable in 2006 when permission was granted but the planning authority carried out a review in the 2009 Town Plan and excluded leisure from the zoning.
The cinema appealed the original decision to An Bord Pleanala which upheld the County Council decision in April of last year, commenting that the project with a large number of car parking spaces, would have an adverse effect on the ‘vitality and viability’ of the existing town centre and that leisure is not permitted on lands zoned for commercial use.
The decision was made in spite of a recommendation in favour of the development by the An Bord Pleanala inspector who investigated the appeal and who noted that the existing use of the site as a cinema is already leisure/entertainment.
The inspector also noted that there was no issue with a restaurant on the site at the pre-planning stage and that the application was made following a discussion with the Council to address parking problems on the Rosslare Road as a result of a car parking shortage on site.
An executive County Council planner who dealt with the original application had also recommended that permission be granted but a senior planner subsequently overturned this recommendation and said permission should be refused on design and traffic grounds.
Likewise, An Bord Pleanala went against the recommendation of its inspector who recommended that the application be granted subject to conditions.
The Heritage Council, Health Service Executive, Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and An Taisce have been notified of the new application by the Council.