A local businessman and doctor says new developments must not sound the death knell of the town centre, he tells reporter Jackie Keogh
FEARS for the future of Bantry's town centre have been expressed by a local GP, who has called on Cork County Council to come up with a new town development plan.
Dr Denis Cotter said he believes Bantry's town centre will be âmore or less deserted' after SuperValu relocates from New Street to a site at Harbour View.
Dr Cotter, who owns the Bakehouse on New Street, also expressed concern that a â¬1.5m redevelopment of what was once Vickery's Hotel will be stymied by the loss of its anchor tenant.
The owner of SuperValu, Jim O'Keeffe, responded to Dr Cotter's comments saying: âWe have no intention of leaving our premises idle.'
He did, however, acknowledge that the replacement of approximately half of an underground drainage system â an old culvert that is in danger of collapse â will be âa big issue' for the commercial life of the town.Â
âBut, ultimately,' he said, âI have no doubt that when this work is complete Bantry will be vastly improved.'Â
Mr O'Keeffe also supported calls that were made by public representatives to have a dedicated town development plan for Bantry drawn up by the Council's architect's department.
Eugene Daly, who is the developer at Vickery's, confirmed that their anchor tenant, a pharmacy, has pulled out, but he said they are in negotiations with two or three other possible tenants.
He said they are also proceeding with the development of town centre apartments overhead, as well as revitalising the old streets to the rear of Vickery's.
Dr Cotter's comments gained a lot of traction when he posted them on Facebook and he called on Cork County Council to appoint a full-time architect for Bantry.
He maintained that before SuperValu was granted planning permission for its Harbour View relocation âthe planners should have ensured that there was some plan in place to actually ensure that the town centre was kept a vibrant centre.'
Dr Cotter, who has been a GP in the town for the last 41 years, said: âI believe Bantry is facing one of its greatest challenges as a retail destination.
âHistory has shown over and over again that a town centre dies rapidly if major destinations close, with shops falling like dominoes when there are out-of-town developments.'Â
According to Dr Cotter: âWestport in County Mayo is a classic example of a well-planned town that is now thriving.' And he called on the people of Bantry to make their views known to their local councillors and TDs.