Dunnes Stores Jobs Boost For Roscrea
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At least EIGHTY full and part-time jobs have been approved for Roscrea as part of a major new investment by Dunnes Stores in the heart of the town
Planning for the development was approved recently by North Tipperary County Council for a new retail and commercial development at the ‘Maltings’ building, situated on the Gaol Road.
The development will include eight units for grocery, clothing and homeware, along with a cafe upstairs. A number of shop units will also form part of the development. It’s understood the bulk of the jobs will go to local people.
Councillor Michael Smith Jnr said that after a very detailed application by Dunnes Stores, which took over eight months, they would finally be arriving in the town. “A few outstanding issues including a traffic impact study, and an architectural report had to be tied up, but that was all done to the satisfaction of the County Council. And there are a number of conditions attached, but it’s a great development” he said.
“Dunnes didn’t do it in half measures. There was a lot of concern about the front facade of the building which is a protected structure.” He said the planning officers were “very happy” with what came forward. The original facade and interior of the historic building, which is a protected structure, will be renovated to reflect its period architecture. Roscrea Heritage Society are said to be “very impressed” with the designs.
While no definitive start-up date has been announced, Cllr Smith said it “not be long” before work begins on the development. The building had previously been a furniture shop for about a year prior to the takeover by Dunnes, which has held it for the last 10 months.
350 car parking spaces will accompany the development, which was “over and above” what is required. Pay-for-parking was introduced six months ago to Roscrea and while Super Valu and Tesco have their own car parks the Gaol Road is the only area in town which doesn’t have significant car parking, said Cllr Smith.
The investment represented a “huge boost” to the town. “When you see Dunnes Stores making such a commitment, it shows that Roscrea is progressing and growing. It’s fabulous both for employment and for that area itself. It’s in the centre of the town and it’s going to be accessible for all and sundry,” he added.
Cllr Smith hopes the development will stem the flow of shoppers out of the town. “Where we are in the midlands here, shoppers look to go to Thurles, Nenagh or Portlaoise. This will be great for the town. A lot of people would do their shopping outside of the town, but we have a lot of strong local business here. Dunnes is a big attraction itself. You will have everything there, you have the clothing, the grocery and the homeware, there will be huge spinoffs. It will all be a big boost,” he added.
Meanwhile, another application from a Cork-based group called Townmore Construction is aimed at developing an office and apartment complex directly adjoining the site, going up towards Ayr Hill. Described as a “huge office block cum apartments complex,” this will “compliment and really finish off the area,” added Cllr Smith. He declined to comment on the number of jobs or the scale of investment as the application is still being processed by Council planners. The two applications are running side by side and and it’s understood the same criteria will be applied to both.
The Dunnes announcement is a vote of confidence in the town, and should encourage investment in the town centre as opposed to ‘out-of-town’ developments which do little to enhance the vibrancy of Roscrea town. Roscrea Chamber Of Commerce feel the development will rejuvenate the town. They feel It’s badly needed and it’s great that it’s in the town centre and not one of these ‘out-of-town’ shopping centres.
The Chamber of Commerce is concerned however that one local retailer, Tesco, is rumoured to have expressed interest in moving to the outskirts of Roscrea from its present location. This would impact negatively on rates and start a trend which has blighted the centres of many other towns, he said. The Chamber are aware that the owner of the shopping centre where they’re located at the moment is offering a proposal to facilitate them in a site closer to the centre of town and they feel this should be encouraged. Roscrea Chamber Of Commerce totally support development in the town centre as long as the infrastructure is in place to cope with it.