Ballybofey bookies case goes to An Bord Pleanála

AN APPEAL has been brought before An Bord Pleanála over Donegal County Council’s decision to grant permission for a new bookmakers in Ballybofey.
The Council granted permission for Ladbrokes to open new shop in part of the vacant Junction 15 Bar and Lounge despite receiving a number of objections.
The appeal has been submitted by Mr Tom McGuinness who owns The Betting Lounge, another bookmakers in the town. 
In his opposition to  the development Mr McGuinness cited the severe decline of the betting industry in Ireland over the last decade. 
He said the vast majority of closures have been independent bookmakers and the number of independent betting offices has dropped to in the region of 100.
Mr McGuinness said his shop sustains his family, two employees and their families and that a bigger automated Ladbrokes will merely generate better shareholder profits to worldwide investors to the largest bookmaking brand in the world.
He added that there will be no future benefit to Ballybofey from the development.
The Council received other objections including a submission from an employee of a betting shop in the town.
Mr Paul Moss said he fears that the oncoming advance of automated machines in the industry will result in his career becoming extinct.
In another objection by Mr Seamus Bell he said he was “shocked” by this attempt to develop a prime corner unit at this busy junction into another bookies.
He highlighted that there was no reference made in the planning application to what will become of the remainder of the site.
Mr Noel Colhoun also raised this concern and said the application was invalid because it omitted information on the future development of the property.
He said this does not service a local need and would likely lead to empty units in the area in the future because of closures.
Another objection from Mr Bernard Kelly said the proposal would be “detrimental” to the town.
Mr Kelly said there is a shortage of good sized retail units on the Main Street and that this premises would be better suited to a large retailer who would use the building in its entirety.
In their response the Planning Authority said the majority of submissions expressed concerns about trade diversion, potential job losses and lack of jobs that will be created. They said they cannot “impede competition amongst traders.”
They granted permission but with 12 conditions attached relating to lighting, signage, disability access and a contribution to the local authority.

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