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27 Jan 2022

€20m shopping centre planned for Tullamore now in limbo

€20m shopping centre planned for Tullamore now in limbo

The much anticipated Riverside Shopping Centre is in limbo due to high costs and a reluctance by retailers to expand

SPIRALLING costs, a nervous retail sector, and the pandemic has halted progress on a much-anticipated shopping centre in Tullamore.

The Riverside Development on the former Coen’s site was given planning approval by Offaly County Council in 2019. It was subsequently appealed to An Bord Pleanala in January 2020 where it remained for well over a year before finally getting permission in May 2021.

The news was broadly welcomed in Tullamore and locals looked forward to seeing the project progress.

However, a combination of Covid, soaring building costs and a reluctance by retailers to expand has left the project in limbo.

Tony Flanagan, the businessman behind the development, said the project was all set to go last June but the pandemic has made retailers cautious. In the meantime building costs have soared.

"A lot of High Street retailers are suffering under Covid and they are consolidating what they have. They are not in a position to expand and are deferring making any decisions. We are hoping in 5 or 6 months things will have improved, but for now, we are stalled," said Tony Flanagan.

Mr Flanagan went on to say that shopping centres are especially feeling the pinch as people are hesitant to go indoors.

He said retailers that are online are doing better.

The planned 130,000 sq ft Church Road development contains a mix of 15 retail outlets, 8 residential units, a cinema and a number of cafes and restaurants.

100 people are to be employed during the construction phase while the centre could employ 240 people when fully operational.

Tony Flanagan’s company bought the site over five years ago and he drew up plans for the Riverside Centre, a mixed-use development across five blocks up to three storeys high.

The project was granted permission by Offaly County Council but only after the Chief Executive Officer Anna Marie Delaney backed it against the advice of her own senior planner.

When the centre was given planning approval, Barry Cowen TD said he had no doubt the investment “can and will be the forerunner” for further developments which can improve footfall and trade for Tullamore.

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