New Aldi proposed at ‘eyesore’ site

COUNCIL members in Ballina have endorsed the sale of a portion of land to Aldi that could facilitate the multinational retailer in their proposal to develop a town centre 'eyesore'.

Aldi approached the council with a view to obtaining a portion of the Teeling Street car park as they plan to develop the adjacent derelict Deanwood Hotel site.

Councillors expressed welcome for the plan but stressed that money accrued from the sale must be ring-fenced for the town of Ballina.

The head of Ballina Municipal District, Declan Turnbull, told the June monthly meeting of the local authority that in pre-planning meetings, Aldi identified that they would need to provide 80 parking spaces but the site would only give them approximately 30. They then approached the council about selling them 50 spaces from Teeling Street car park, which stands adjacent to the Deanwood site.

The council had an evaluation carried out on the value of the land and the projected loss of income from car parking over a 10-year period, and a figure of €380,000 was arrived at.

Mr. Turnbull said the council recommended selling the land, which amounts to 0.146 hectares, subject to the project getting planning permission.

He added that the council has received a number of complaints about the site in the past few years. It's an eyesore, for one thing, and is also a centre for anti-social behaviour.

"We're anxious that something is done with the site," he commented, adding that if the sale does go ahead, they would make it a condition of sale to have Aldi move forward with full planning permission within 12 months and be on site within 18.

Welcoming the proposal, Councillor John O'Hara said he would be delighted to see something happening with the site. However, he wanted to see the €380,000 ring-fenced and kept in Ballina for future projects, although director of services Tom Gilligan said he didn't know if it could be done.

Councillors Michael Loftus and Jarlath Munnelly said a precedent was set with a development in Killala heretofore, while Councillor Mark Duffy said the council could arguably make €400,000 in rates from the development in the next 10 years, which would go into central funds, whereas all they were looking for was that the €380,000 from the sale of the land would be kept in Ballina.