It was to have been one of Clare’s biggest retail developments of the Celtic Tiger era but it is now an abandoned eyesore that’s the subject of a campaign to have it returned as a greenfield site.

Described as a “substantial town centre mixed use development”, Cois Fhorgais on the Limerick side of Clarecastle had secured planning permission for 25 commercial and 92 residential units on an eight acre site known locally as Devine’s Field.

The foundations were laid; an underground car park with 344 spaces substantially completed and site works well under way when the recession hit and Grant Thornton were appointed receivers after the developers ran into financial difficulty.

Over the intervening years, the abandoned development has become a derelict eyesore and a five year extension of the planning permission granted by Clare County Council expired last April.

Local Fine Gael TD Joe Carey has been leading a campaign to ensure there is no further extension of the planning permission and that Clare County Council acts in the best interests of the local community by having it declared as a priority for demolition.

“This is a huge issue in terms of public safety and it also detracts from the overall appearance of the area as it’s on the entrance to the village,” he explained.

“The site has been abandoned for several years and it really takes from future development plans and enhancement works. The development has no hope of progressing further and poses a serious health hazard and eyesore to the community of Clarecastle.

“It is the strong desire of the local community that it would be returned to a green-field area and it’s important that Clare County Council would advance plans to bring this situation about at the earliest opportunity,” Deputy Carey added.

He said that when the extension to the original planning permission expired, the site was offered for sale by auction on April 28 with a €65,000 reserve but withdrawn from sale by Allsop auctioneers. The site is listed on the Register of Unfinished Housing Developments and little or no recent works have been carried out to address local concerns.

“Earlier this year, I was advised by the council’s planning department that they carried out an inspection of the unfinished development and wrote to the receivers, Grant Thornton, seeking their proposals for a long-term resolution of the matter and issues that required immediate attention.

“ As far as I’m aware, the council is still waiting for Grant Thornton to submit a definitive Site Resolution Plan, with substantial proposals to either complete the project within the given timeframe or return it to greenfield site.

“The local community has been more than patient and it is now time for the council to make a formal submission to the Department identifying and listing this unfinished site as a priority for demolition”, Deputy Carey concluded.

Caption: Councillor Paul Murphy, Deputy Joe Carey and Clarecastle Tidy Towns Committee Chairman Christy Leyden at the abandoned Cois Fhorgais site.