Supermac's has finally secured the green light for a €10 million Barack Obama style motorway plaza outside Ennis off the M18 motorway.
The grant by An Bord Pleanála for the development at Kilbreckan, Doora outside Ennis brings to an end an almost eight year long planning saga.
Plans were first lodged for a motorway plaza by Supermac's in December 2014.
That was turned down by An Bord Pleanála in 2016 and Clare County Council granted planning permission for the current scheme in December 2020.
However, the project was put on hold after three appeals were lodged by the operator of the four star hotel in Ennis, the Old Ground and four other businesses in one appeal along with appeals by Maxol Ltd and long time opponent of the plan and local landowner, Shane Brigdale.
Today, Supermac's MD, Pat McDonagh welcomed the decision.
Mr McDonagh said the plaza will lead to the same level of job creation as the Barack Obama plaza at Moneygall at around 130 jobs and also an additional 100 construction jobs for a nine month period.
He said that he hopes that the plaza will be open for the 2023 Christmas period.
Appeals were lodged in January 2021 and asked about the 21 month period waiting for a decision by An Bord Pleanala, Mr McDonagh said: "That is the way the system works. We would prefer it to be quicker but it wasn't a case that we were waiting for the post every day for a decision as we have been busy on other projects."
The board granted planning permission for the scheme after concluding that the proposed development would meet a need for motorway services serving cars and HGVs at this strategic intersection at two national roads.
The board concluded that the proposal would not give rise to an over-proliferation of private off-line service facilities at national road junctions, would not negatively impact on the level of service and carrying capacity of the national road network.
The board also determined the scheme would not result in the creation of a retail destination that would negatively impact upon the existing settlement.
A previous Supermac's plaza application was mired in controversy after it emerged in 2018 that bogus letters of support were lodged with Clare Co Council.
At the time, Supermac's stated that it was 'horrified' to learn about the bogus letters from the media "and disowns the actions taken and wants to distance itself completely from them".
"We requested the Gardai to investigate that," said Mr McDonagh.
"There hasn’t been any prosecutions by the Gardai. It’s over. It’s done. We move on."
Mr McDonagh said that the Supermac's group already operates six motorway plazas and business this year "has been pretty good" at the plazas.
Across the group, Supermac's operates 118 outlets and asked how many other outlets Supermac's plans on opening in 2023, Mr McDonagh said that there are others in the planning process.
"It is a time to be a bit cautious and not a time to go mad," he said.