Filling station and drive thrus plan refused for Loughrea

Galway County Council has refused planning permission for a filling station and two drive-thru restaurants adjacent to the carpark of Loughrea Shopping Centre.

There was strong local opposition to the plans, with almost 40 local residents putting their names to one of five objections.

Aidan McGuinness sought permission to develop a 138 square metre and a 302 sq m restaurant/take-away, a 31 sq m lobby for both premises and a two-lane drive-thru facility, as well as an outdoor seating area on a site of around one-third-of-an-acre adjacent to the shopping centre carpark.

A second application on two-thirds-of-an-acre sought permission for a filling station and forecourt with four pumps and three underground tanks with a total capacity of 100,000 litres.

Issuing a refusal for both applications, planners said the development would seriously injure the amenities of the area and depreciate the value of residential properties in the area and potentially create a traffic hazard which would endanger public safety.

“Having regard to the nature of the proposed development in such close proximity to residential properties, the traffic movements, noise, smells and general disturbance during night time hours associated with the type of development proposed, the Planning Authority consider it would seriously injure the amenities, or depreciate the value of property in the vicinity.

“It is considered that the development would endanger public safety by reason of traffic hazard or obstruction of road users or otherwise,” planners ruled.

They added that it would create a traffic hazard “due to the potential for collision of vehicles and pedestrians”.

There were four objections to the filling station plans, including one signed by 37 residents of the adjacent The Maltings and Cois Furáin estates.

The main concern related to the fuel tanks being located so close to homes, and directly behind the back walls of a number of the homeowners. Locals also expressed fears that the ground works could undermine the foundations of houses, while the businesses would create high levels of noise.

Concerns were also raised about carcinogenic fumes from the filling station and the risk of contamination from leaking pipes, as well as the devaluing of properties.

Another objection pointed out there are four housing estates adjacent to the site, with around 350 to 400 residents, which make it a “high risk” development. It added that there are already three filling stations in Loughrea (including one less than 100 metres from the development), and a 24-hour facility just 7km from the town.

A single objection – from a resident of an adjacent housing estate – was lodged against the drive thru application, on the grounds that it would result in over-development of the site, create a nuisance for residents and would cause additional traffic in an already congested location.

In the applications, Mr McGuinness’ representatives said the developments would provide an economic boost for the town.

“The proposal will result in the beneficial development of a vacant infill site within the settlement boundary of Loughrea. The development will create employment and contribute to the economic prosperity of the town.

“The proposal results in a development which accords fully with the proper planning and sustainable development of the area, while providing an attractive, high quality, contemporary building which reflects the existing character and amenity of the area and enhances Loughrea as a whole,” the application reads.