Belfast Telegraph

Belfast developer Suneil Sharma still hopes for £80m Limerick mall green light

By Alice Johnson

Belfast developer and former Policing Board member Suneil Sharma has said he is still hopeful that his proposed shopping complex in Limerick will go ahead.

Planning permission for the Horizon Mall, a proposed €100m (£80m) retail development on the outskirts of the city, was refused by Limerick City Council last Friday.

Objections to the plans – a downsized version of earlier plans which were approved in 2011 – were filed by Limerick Chamber of Commerce and Limerick City Business Association, as well as a number of politicians,

In a statement on their website released yesterday, Limerick City and County Council said: "It is considered that the proposed stand alone retail development would seriously injure the vitality and viability of the Limerick city centre and the existing district centres and would seriously impact on the shopping role of these centres."

The site is partially developed as Parkway Shopping Centre, further development having been abandoned when Liam Carroll's Zoe Group collapsed in 2008.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Sharma, who acquired the Horizon Mall site with his business partner Sam Morrison, said that the development could still go ahead.

"We've been refused our amendment but we really don't know what they could have objected to," he said. "We are getting the paperwork and will go through it to find out exactly what the issue is."

Asked whether they would appeal, Mr Sharma said: "We're dealing with all the vagaries of a planning system that is shrouded in mystery. We'll just have to make a judgment."

Planning permission for the original plan lapses in August 2016. Mr Sharma's recent proposal for a 63,712 sq m centre was downsized from the original 73,142, with plans for a 100,000 sq ft Marks & Spencer – its largest store outside Dublin – remaining.

Kevin Sheahan of Fianna Fail, first citizen of the City and County, said he would be disappointed if the development – which the promoters claimed would create 2,000 jobs – did not go ahead.

"I'd be disappointed if those jobs are lost. I believe in development, progress and people.

"The developer has the right to appeal and he also has the original planning which doesn't expire until 2016. That man could start building tomorrow on the original application. There'd be people who'd make him welcome and people who'd criticise him."

Meanwhile, in a similar conflict between city centre traders and out-of-town developers, business leaders in Newry are poised to apply for a judicial review of a decision to allow the Hill Partnership's plans for a multi-million pound retail hub nearly two miles outside the city.

They claim the centre at Carnbane Way, which is expected to house anchor tenant Asda plus 70 industrial units, will damage the city's economy. Newry Chamber and NIIRTA said the development "would have a devastating impact on Newry city centre".

Belfast Telegraph