LIDL has confirmed that it will build a new store at Newtown in Bantry ‘as soon as is feasible’ following An Bord Pleanála’s decision upholding the planning permission granted by Cork County Council.
The local authority granted Lidl planning permission in June 2016, but local businessman Aiden McCarthy sent a submission to An Bord Pleanála because he believed the decision to locate the new store 1.2km from the town centre was in contravention of planning guidelines.
The issue came to a head in November when An Bord Pleanála deferred making a decision for a second time. There was a public outcry and a Facebook campaign entitled ‘Bantry Needs A Lidl’ quickly gained momentum. It was followed on December 9th with a public meeting at the Boys’ Club in Bantry, attended by approximately 250 townspeople.
Local councillor Mary Hegarty (FG), welcomed the Bord’s announcement, saying: ‘This is a new beginning for Bantry.’
The councillor said the Lidl investment would create 100 jobs during the construction phase and lead to the creation of 20 permanent jobs in-store.
Local woman Amy O’Sullivan established the Facebook page and began an online petition in support of Lidl, which was signed by 1,650 people. She also carried out an online survey, which showed that 78% of shoppers were leaving the town to do their grocery shopping.
She welcomed the announcement on Wednesday saying: ‘This is a victory for the struggling families of Bantry. It is also a victory for the local businesses who were watching all the shoppers leaving town every week.
‘It proves that the people of Bantry have a voice and it’s being heard.’ She also suggested that the voice of the people could be instrumental in resolving other issues affecting the town.
Lidl property director Alan Barry told The Southern Star, ‘We are delighted to have received the green light from An Bord Pleanála for our development in Bantry.
‘There has been an overwhelming level of support from the community and we are very grateful for this and thank everyone for all their efforts. We will now look to begin the tender process to appoint a main contractor for the project.
‘We intend to commence construction as soon as is feasible and are committed to opening and trading in Bantry as soon as possible.’
Cork South West TD Michael Collins (Ind) said the decision would provide ‘a major boost for Bantry town and the surrounding areas’.