By Noel Dundon
The granting of planning permission for the most ambitious ever development project in County Tipperary has been welcomed as ‘a watershed decision’ and just the kind of stimulus needed to kickstart the local and national economy.
An Bord Pleanala announced this week that the 460 million Euro Tipperary Venue, just outside Two-Mile-Borris can go to construction after the most in-depth planning process ever conducted in North Tipperary was undertaken following a detailed and extensive application from businessman Mr Richard Quirke - a native of Thurles. The matter went to a three day long oral hearing and eventually the green light was given, but crucially, the provision of a 15,000 all seater music venue was refused.
And, it has emerged that the Inspector recommended that the project be refused permission, but the decision was over-turned by the board of An Bord Pleanala.
It is understood that initial infrastructural footprint, costing in the region of 30 million Euro, will commence within weeks, thereby providng much needed local employment. The finance is in place for this phase of the development with national and international backers, thought to be drawn from the equine and gaming industries, supporting the project which is seen as a gateway to the European market.
Independent Deputy Michael Lowry T.D, has labelled the decision as being hugely significant and allows the Tipperary Venue project to proceed to the next phase of development.
“This positive action by An Bord Pleanala contributes to unleashing the enormous potential of the overall site plan. In the context of stated Government policy to encourage creativity and job creation, this is a timely opportunity to progress an original plan which will generate enormous economic activity and create thousands of sustainable jobs. A combination of a broad range of interactive projects on the one site will transform the economic, cultural and social life of Tipperary and the entire region. Consultations with interested parties and preparatory work on various aspects of the scheme have been ongoing and will now be accelerated,” said Deputy Lowry who has supported the project from it’s inception.
An Bord Pleanala Inspector Pauline Fitzpatrick conducted the hearing into the 800 acre site proposal by local man Mr Richard Quirke which includes a 500 bedroom five star hotel, a 15,000 seater entertainment venue, golf course, racetrack, greyhound stadium, replica of the White House, a controversial casino – the first of it’s kind in Ireland - and substantial redevelopment of the local hinterland. It is anticipated that 1,000 jobs will be created at construction stage of the development with a further 1,500 jobs upon completion.
The project had already been given the green light by North Tipperary County Council with 63 conditions attached. But, upon appeal the Oral hearing was deemed necessary and was conducted in the Horse and Jockey Inn amid much local and national interest.
While much of the focus of the Tipperary Venue project has been spotlighted on the casino element, there has been significant support for many of the other elements also with major players in the horse racing and greyhound industries throwing their weight behind it.
“The Review Commission on Gaming established by the Department of Justice has produced, after extensive consultation, an informed report which sets out options to reform, license, and regulate the gaming industry. I would anticipate that these suggestions will form the basis of draft proposals on a modernized legislative framework to be brought forward in due course by the Minister for Justice. All involved with the Tipperary Venue are heartened and encouraged by An Bord Pleanala’s ruling. There is a renewed commitment and determination to make this exciting development a reality,” Deputy Lowry said.
The Mayor of North Tipperary, Councillor John Kennedy, welcomed the decision as being “very significant for North Tipp” and looked forward to the commencement of work at the site. Thurles Chamber of Commerce President Mr Austin Broderick, who has also been very supportive of the project, described the decision as being a “fantastic one for business and jobs “ in the locality. His sentiments were echoed by Cllr Seamus Hanafin who described the huge investment as being tremendous for the long term job prospects of the region.
Meanwhile Cllr Jim Ryan said, “I very much welcome this news and would like to compliment An Bord Pleannala for this common sense decision. This is a wonderful opportunity for badly needed job creation for Thurles and it’s surrounds and is exactly the boost that the area has been crying out for such a long time. Great credit must go to Richard Quirke and his team for creating a sense of hope for so many who are in desperate need of jobs. Since the news was made official a wonderful atmosphere has been generated around Thurles and I would like to pay tribute to Michal Lowry for his public backing of this project. Thurles people now have someting to look forward to and my best wishes go to Richard Quirke for what will hopefully turn out to be a massive success for both himself and all of Tipperary. “
Full coverage on page 2.