Wexford People - - NEWS - By MARIA PEP­PER

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.

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