New Group Opposes Restaurant Re-Location

A NEW group has been formed in Roscrea with the intention of opposing aspects of a a major town centre development. The group, called ‘Planning Roscrea’s Future’, has launched an appeal to An Bord Pleanala to amend what they call are “massive planning failures in Roscrea town centre.”

A NEW group has been formed in Roscrea with the intention of opposing aspects of a a major town centre development. The group, called ‘Planning Roscrea’s Future’, has launched an appeal to An Bord Pleanala to amend what they call are “massive planning failures in Roscrea town centre.”

The group has appealed to An Bord Pleanala to “do all that is within their power to address the massive ongoing planning failures at the recent ‘Roscrea town centre’ development adjacent to the historic St Cronan’s monastery, round tower and Black Mills heritage complex in the centre of the town,” said spokesman Peter Madden.

The appeal, which was brought forward by Mr Madden on behalf of the group, has been accepted for consideration by an Bord Pleanala. As the appeal has been accepted, other people now have an opportunity to make observations or submissions to An Bord Pleanala. The deadline for such submissions is Tuesday 10th April 2012. As a fee of 50 euro applies to each individual submission to An Bord Pleanala, the group has facilitated that observations/submissions may be compiled and submitted as one, thus incurring only one fee.

‘Planning Roscrea’s Future’ is calling on “all people concerned about the future of our town and community to avail of this opportunity and have their views heard and taken into account.” For further information the group can be contacted at 086 8142951 or submissions can be dropped into 2 Main Street, Roscrea (beside the Credit Union).

A guided tour of Roscrea’s historic quarter has been arranged for Sunday next, 1st April, meeting at 3pm on Barrack Hill, Main Street (in front of Credit Union). The walk will explore the heritage of the town and examine the impact of recent developments on our town and community.

The appeal, called ‘Making our town an even better place in which to live’, opposes the planned re-location of a restaurant in a historically sensitive area of town.

“The purpose of this planning application is an effort by the developer not to comply with An Bord Pleannala’s (APB) condition 2 (which the APB imposed when allowing the development to go ahead) by thus removing the restaurant from the stipulated location, where it was to have a vital role in integrating the development with the so called ‘Roscrea community plaza’. The developer went ahead and built, in contravention of this condition. Given the vast over-development already on site no further buildings should be erected, and specifically not on the site of the now demolished ‘Tower Restaurant’.”

“There might be some chance of better integrated development on site with a completely redesigned south frontage incorporating café -restaurant (As conditioned by ABP) opening onto a re-imagined public space. What is there now simply, doesn’t work,” added Mr Madden.

Planning Roscrea’s Future

- Community Action Group -

‘Making our town an even better place in which to live’

We wish to appeal against the decision of North Tipperary County Council to grant conditional planning permission to application number 11510432 ; which is a request to amend application number 08510293 as follows

I, Peter Madden, am an ordinary Roscrea citizen, born and reared and living in my town. I care about my town, I love my town. I care about the archaeological, architectural, environmental, economical, social and community, political and democratic, and spiritual life of my town and my community.

I feel that the developments in consideration have a significant harmful affect on all these aspects of my town and its people. I know that I am correct in this given the other more favourable outcomes that are available. I am saddened and angered that we have arrived at this dreadful situation.

I feel that the these developments to date have massively corroded the built fabric of our town and our life, but also and perhaps more significantly, degraded the civic and democratic aspects of public life in our community. We feel that the will of the community has been subverted. Believe me it gives me no pleasure to say this ( the planning applicant previously rebutted an objection with the dismissal that it was vexatious, I’m not vexatious, I’m just appalled by what is occurring to our town in front of us).

There is deep and widespread concern over these developments and what has happened and is happening, and also what has not happened and should have happened.

In considering this appeal please have regard for this letter and the attached documents and photos. We have also included CD which contains photos and two short videos clips to help you assess the situation.

I ask you to now address this planning file in its entirety. i.e. the current application and the one which it seeks to amend.

As this application seeks to amend planning application number 08510293, I call on ABP to examine this application on its merits and demerits, and inclusive to, and consequent to, all impacts which it, and previous planning applications which it seeks to amend, may have on the outcomes.

Quote ‘Basically open up the file guys. These dudes have been running ram-shod, I don’t know how to say it, but we know what it feels like when we got shafted, and it stinks.’ End quote.

Any thorough inspection of what has happened will reveal a catastrophic planning failure on this site.

Certainly this is the case as regards to public policy; I don’t expect that Tesco PLC or Tiernan Properties will acknowledge or seek to redress the deleterious aspects of the development. They built away in non-compliance with ABP conditions.

List of some of the issues, violations, non-compliances.

Contravention of town plan (local area plan ) zoning. See Roscrea Local Area plan 2006.

Site zoned

Mixed use part of site

Public/social and amenity part of site –See attached photos and documents

Note the some of the footprint of the massive supermarket building is built on the land most generously given over in trust by the late George Fasenfeld (formerly Antigen Pharmaceuticals Roscrea) for the use of the people of Roscrea for social and amenity use. About a third of the land leased to Roscrea peoples trust (from my understanding for 99 years) for the benefit of the community (this was subsequently leased to the OPW for 35 years - from my understanding – see- last document on the original planning file page on North Tipperary County Council’s website) has been built on by the Tiernan properties/Tesco for their supermarket and their private underground car park

The development is not in compliance with properly drawn up zoning designations. Development on this site did require rezoning section 4 motion and due public process. If it can be shown that is not the case in law, it certainty is the case in moral justice.

This purported ‘master plan’, concerns large tracts of the centre of Roscrea town over which the developer has no control, ownership or proper authority. That this ‘master plan’ is given consideration and validity, without proper consultation and input from the community, is contrary to the principles of good planning.

Please Read the ABP planning inspectors report on the planned development. There was previously an appeal against North Tipperary County Council’s decision to grant conditional planning permission to the original application, application (case reference PL22.231971 and ABP appeal number 08/510239). The ABP inspectors excellent report recommended refusal of the development. The board for whatever reason did not accept the inspectors recommendation. They may have felt that there was a net gain for the town. What has transpired on site differs greatly from the original vision. The most gifted sophist could not convince that the development as constructed is consistent with good planning for this sensitive and key area in the heart of our heritage town.


The following matters are at variance to the vision that was originally proposed by the developer for the town.

Shops/retail frontage on Lourdes road gone

Reinstatement of mill race gone

Reinstatement of mill pond gone

Reinstatement of working mill wheel gone

Waterfall feature gone

Fully realized and integrated public plaza gone

Loss of ‘the millennium gardens’

The ‘plaza’ as built is forlorn shadow of the vision at the outset and is a sick joke.

A ‘Plaza’, a so called public plaza- a space so sterile and unwelcoming that even the ‘winos’ won’t hang out there – its too inhospitable. Maybe at some level that was the idea.

There is no ground level in the building. There is a lower basement car park (3 meters below ground level) and a upper retail floor (3 meters above ground level).

This prevents good integration with the exterior. The levels of the plaza are wrong for good integration with the wider outside area. There is no sense of cohesion with the wider public realm.

Levels and accessibility are a mess. Very poorly addressed in the design on site.

Integration of the development is key and this has not been achieved. This represents non-compliance. There might be some chance of better integration with a completely redesigned south frontage incorporating café -restaurant (As conditioned by ABP) opening onto a re-imagined public space. What is there now simply, doesn’t work.

And what of the treatment of the sole bridge and linkage to the west side of the town (to main street, castle street and beyond). Answer- no treatment. Its as it was 10 years ago. No continuous pavement to walk to the store. People walk on the carriageway/road.

The developer presented plans for new additional bridges as part of an enhanced public realm. All dropped apparently.

Net loss of public open space at the heritage site. The building is built on the public park. Result - loss of the public realm at this key site for our community and tourists alike. I’ve met no one who knew that this was going to happen or how or why it happened. It is our fault as a community for not being on top of the planning case but I guess we all thought that the various authorities would adequately look after the public interest. Sadly we were mistaken in this instance.

Look at the permeability* of the tesco box

(*permeability is a key feature of good urban civic design)

Only two external public access points into the tesco box

One of these is on the north side - a car access ramp into the underground car park

Glazing on north (Lourdes road) side indicated on plans in the planning file now gone.

There were plans for shop units opening onto the street at this north side – now gone. This might at least have facilitated the development of a pleasing street here in the future.

No public access to the box on the west side. A c200m wall.

Proposed glazing was removed on this West elevation; the developer claimed to do this to alleviate concern over light spill from the store. But this solution to one concern compounds the problems with this elevation.

No public access on the east side

One two meter wide doorway into the stores entrance atrium on the south side, on the ‘plaza’;.. this door is leading to steps down to the basement level, followed by a walk to further steps and escalator to the upper shopping floor. An appalling access design.

Terrible permeability and integration of the box store into its environment. Basically we have a prefabricated box suitable for an industrial estate perhaps; oversized and shoe-horned into the centre of an historic heritage town.

Scale and heights are ‘off the Richter’. Walk into the store and look up into the huge roof void. That’s all needlessly damaging externally; presenting as a huge box.

Look at the external surface finishes. Bare mass concrete is in abundance. Then, joined by vast surfaces of pre-fabricated clip on cladding panels. If this cannot be addressed I will be forced to seek planning permission to cover the round tower with such cladding as it now seems obtrusive and incoherent in its new environmental setting. We seek harmony in design.

Local Sandstone is the characteristic building material of Roscrea town and the tokenism with which it has been used here is a poor attempt.

It is essential that to reduce the negative impact of this building, that, if it is allowed to stand, then maximum effort must be made to integrate it better with the public realm on all sides.

On the south face, fronting onto the area where the proposed community plaza was to have been built, major changes must be made for it to integrate properly with the wider public realm.

The drastic erosion of the benefits to the public realm, which were envisaged and contained somewhat in the early vision, calls into question the acceptability of the overall development. The go-ahead for the development (as per original plans) was given as it was felt that the positives would exceed the negatives – the decision was reached on balance. The An Bord Pleanála inspector recommended rejection of the plan. The ABP board overruled her. Given the progressive watering down of the plan and the very significant erosion of any positive benefits for the environment of our town, its very raison d’etre has been destroyed. Yeah, you can shop there; but at what price to the environment of our town. Tesco PLC aren’t paying that price. We are. By the loss of what might have been, and the imposition of what is. The vision, was for a town centre that would bind our town at its core; not fracture it, as is being allowed to happen. Vastly more favourable outcomes were/are available.

By allowing these standards to pass we end up with ‘places not worth caring about’. We are all the lesser for that.

The documented public policy and intention is elucidated through objectives contained in spatial , regional, local, economic, environment, planning policy, county development plans and local area plans, and policy guideline documents.

I was pleased to be involved in the public consultation process for the 2006 Roscrea local area plan, and it seemed to me that there was good community engagement with the process of the making of the plan. The outcome of this process saw a zoning of open space/ public use and mixed use on the lands in question on this planning application.

The Local Area Plan afforded a very strong recognition to Roscrea’s heritage, and conserving and preserving this for the benefit of our community.

The following are extracts/quotations from the plan.

-see attached sheet

The development adversely impacts the priceless heritage treasures at the heart of our town - the town centre heritage complex; site of Saint Cronan’s monastery, grave yard, Church of Ireland, round tower, 12th century Celtic high cross, black mills, site of mill pond and mill race, ‘Primitive Methodist’s church’ and the linkages to nearby heritage sites, Roscrea castle, Damer house and the Franciscan friary.

Some well intentioned people got the impression from early stage plans by Tiernan properties, and bolstered by notional/aspirational ‘master plans’ supplied by the developer (master plans drawn up and produced without any reference to the Roscrea community, with no input from the community and unbeknownst to the people of Roscrea) that the development would enhance our town. I know that very many such people now feel betrayed by what has occurred; the developments, their affect on our town, the way the matter has been handled, and the civic abuse.

If a youngster broke the stem of a sapling tree in a park they would be labelled a vandal.

What has occurred here is environmental vandalism on a grand scale.

The development on site vastly differs (is in non-compliance) with what was proposed initially. The local planning authority seem to have been repeatedly granting notices that the developer is in compliance when this is not the case. The development is not in compliance with good planning, and what the ABP intended and grievously violates good planning practice.

Hopefully your inspector will bring some qualified sense to bear on matters.

We the people of the town, and we know we speak for the majority of the community, feel we have been grievously wronged by the developments to date. We urge those with the authority to do all that is possible and to contribute all that they can, to create the most favourable outcome possible to this appalling environmental situation for Roscrea town and our community.

All mitigation in terms of a ‘master plan’ for the Roscrea town centre area, which itself was prepared with minimal input from the community and unbeknownst to almost all of us, is entirely null and void as there is no prospect of the purported ‘master plan’ being realised in the foreseeable future (due to obvious macro-economic considerations), even if such was desirable.

This all pertains to a planning vision that has not been, and will not be, realised; unless you within your powers as the final arbiter can make it so. We deeply, earnestly and passionately hope that you can amend the situation.

We care about our town and our community, please help us.

I don’t know what to say to you guys, picking out various bits of non compliance, seems to me to be absurd given the overwhelming incongruity of the manifestation in front of our eyes. …see accompanying pictures

Is this just an aesthetic issue?

Fundamentally its not an issue…..its about the real things which we see about us….and in which we live our lives, each and every day, ………… in our lives and in our town.

Roscrea matters

Peter Madden


County Tipperary