17 Jun 2008

At the start of The Planning Chronicles of Carrick-on-Suir, you might remember the whole thing kicked off when the Town Council initially refused to let Heitons home-furnishings suppliers take up space in an already completed retail park because the Council said Heitons wares weren’t ‘bulky’ enough to comply with the Department guidelines.

Well, as many of you pointed out, if Carrick-on-Suir Town Council were reading the Guidelines correctly, eighteen other councils around the country which have allowed Heitons to quietly trade away must have read them incorrectly because, as we all know, if you’re looking for Heitons, the retail park is where you’ll find them (and bear in mind those councils who’ve given permission to kids birthday party organisers, Tons of Fun, to trade in retail parks – hardly what you call ‘traders in bulky goods’, eh?).

Anyway, one of the more curious amongst you had a look at the planning file for Heitons in Tullamore to find out why it hadn’t been a big deal for the furniture store to set up shop in County Offaly, and discovered how the whole thing was handled: the developers simply wrote to the Council planners to make sure that there was no problem with Heitons moving in and they received a letter back from the Council confirming same. I’ve no doubt in the coming weeks I’ll get similar information regarding how Heitons managed to establish themselves in other parts of the country. I’ll keep you posted.

Meanwhile back in Carrick, the completed retail park on the Waterford Road (which is in a Rapid area in one of the least well off towns in the country and, were Heitons allowed take up a lease, would be providing desperately needed employment for at least fifty people right now) stands idle. A rival scheme, which the Council is pushing for at the opposite end of town on the infamous ‘underwater site’, is stuck in planning; and with the economy going the way it’s going who knows where it will end up.

Reform of the Local Authority system in this country is desperately needed (in terms of ‘democratic deficit’, it makes Lisbon look like Athens). In the meantime, before things get to some desperate point of no return in Carrick, is there anyway that folks can step back a little and let common sense prevail?

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