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April 13th 2005

Has Keeney played the Trump card?

Keeney Construction has been making no friends for itself around Donegal Town. In the latest twist to the commercial development saga in the area, the company has lodged a 40 page objection to Christopher Bennett’s planning application for Atlantic Homecare to site at Drumlonagher. This comes in the wake of a series of tit-for-tat ojections and observations that has left development in Donegal Town and environs in limbo.
At the same time as this latest objection was being lodged, Keeney received permission from An Bord Pleanana to proceed with the building of a new mart at Lurganboy/Ardlenagh, much to the dismay of Hospira Ltd, Seabreeze Ltd, and local residents. Indeed one of these residents, Gerry Mulhern, went on local radio to denounce the Keeney policy of opposing every planning application made by Bennett and questioning the wisdom of siting a mart so close to a major medical plant. In theory, Keeney could start to build this facility tomorrow. But will the mart committee accept this? The original agreement voted on last year, was for the structure to be built at Tullyearl - and if that is ingrained in the conditions, members could well refuse to accept the new siting.
Keeney, on the other hand, feels right is on his side, as the Town Plan states that retail development should take place from the centre out and, as the article alongside illustrates - he is likely be correct. This could be the big one, and the move that proves that his conviction and determination to develop a site close to the centre of town, was well justified.


Lynn and Danny shake hands on the deal

Major coup for Keeney Construction
after acquiring town centre site

By Margaret Gallagher

Magee and Keeney Construction Ltd have now concluded an agreement (subject to planning approval) in which the following will take place.
&Mac183;The Magee Clothing business will move to a custom-built building at Ardlenagh, 1.5 miles outside Donegal Town, past Hospira.
Magee Weaving will remain where it is on the banks of the River Eske
&Mac183;A planning application, submitted by Keeney Construction Ltd and Magee for a major retail and other development, will be submitted, to be located on the remainder of the present Milltown site owned by Magee.
Lynn Temple, Chairman of the Magee Group, stated that he was delighted to have concluded these negotiations as he and all those involved believe it to be in the best interests of Magee and in the best interests for the development of Donegal Town, to create a major retail development so close to the town centre. This development will comply exactly with the criteria laid down in the new Town Plan and will enable Donegal Town to retain a vibrant centre and develop outwards from there.
Magee Weaving, which has a niche position is supplying high-quality colourful fabrics to the leading design labels in the world, will remain as is, as it utilises heavy equipment, some of which is embedded in concrete and the high volume of activity could not tolerate any disruption. It will be incorporated as an attractive working mill within the overall Development Plan.
Magee Clothing, whose business has changed significantly over the past five years, now has the opportunity to relocate to custom-designed facilities in a less congested area two miles away at a site already zoned for light industry. Thereby, in all these moves, the maximum potential of the Magee site at Milltown, which is now zoned for retailing, can be exercised for good of both the Company and Donegal Town.
Speaking to Donegal Times, Lynn Temple had this to say “This is a great opportunity for Magee and Donegal Town. It makes perfect sense for Magee to relocate to Ardlenagh which is zoned for light industry and to release its site at Milltown, which is zoned for retail and mixed use, for development.
“The Magee business has changed dramatically over the past five years and this move allows its new business to relocate to custom designed facilities.”
I asked Lynn would he have any problem relocating the factory beside a mart? - “Not at all, the lowing of beasts will be therapeutic when I am sitting in my office coping with other pressures!!”In addition to the Magee owned property, it is inderstood that Keeney Construction Ltd has also acquired lands on the southern side of the River Eske - also a number of properties on Main St, to facilitate improved access arrangements to the sites.
In a statement to Donegal Times, Danny Keeney, Managing Director of Keeney Construction Limited said that the company remained committed to securing the regeneration and redevelopment of centrally located sites in Donegal Town, including the Magee and Mart sites. “Donegal Town has a limited capacity for retail development - the population is simply not big enough to support two new supermarkets at this time. We are grateful to Magees for the commitment that they have shown to the town centre by releasing their site for development and for agreeing to relocate to Ardlenagh/Lurganboy. Our view is that the Magee site is the most appropriate location in the town for a retail development and offers huge advantages over other sites currently being promoted. We are particularly pleased that we will be able to retain the weaving factory on the site and to make it a feature of its redevelopment.
“At the end of the day, An Bord Pleanala will decide the preferred location for significant retail development in the town and the choice facing them will be to either choose a town centre or out-of-town site. Although we have acquired the Magee site and view it as the most appropriate location for a new supermarket, we will continue to honour our commitment to purchase and redevelop the existing mart site and to relocate them to a new state-of-the-art facility outside the town centre. However the mart site is no longer crucial to our aims to deliver a new modern shopping centre for town.”
The chairman of Magee Ltd, Lynn Temple, announced to his staff last evening (Monday) that the company had entered into an agreement with Keeney Construction Ltd for Keeney to acquire the existing Magee site and for Magee to relocate to a state-of-the-art factory at Ardlenagh.
Danny Keeney defended his company’s objections to the proposed Retail Park at Drumlonagher. ‘We have come under intense criticism for lodging an appeal against the proposed retail development at Drumlonagher in recent weeks but the simple fact of the matter is that any decision to grant permission for either the proposed retail park at Drumlonagher or for the proposed retail development at the Mullans would seriously compromise the ability to redevelop the Mart and Magee sites and as such would not be in the best interests of existing businesses in the town centre or the proper planning and development of the area. With the land parcel we have now assembled there is an opportunity to provide Donegal Town with one of the finest town centres in the country. It would be a crying shame to lose that opportunity by granting permission for inappropriate out-of-town development.’

The Donegal Times, The Diamond, Donegal Town, Ireland

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