D65 Zoning

Name: John Ryan

Position: Co-owner and co-ordinator of Fennelly Fitness

Group/ Organisation: Fennelly Fitness

Address: Unit 17, Hebron Business Park, Kilkenny

Re: Zoning for Hebron Business Park


Dear Sir/ Madam,

I confirm that I am the co-owner and co-ordinator of a specialised health and fitness club in the Hebron Business Park area. I have over twenty years of experience in health and fitness and many years of experience working within the health services and within communities. In sport, I have won the Irish National Powerlifting Championships successively over the years and also won the European and World Championships, proudly representing both my county (Kilkenny), and my country in many different territories abroad. Additionally, I am a qualified Art Therapist (Dip Ath, MA) and semi-professional musician, with experience in areas such as Teacher/ student capacity, Community with Children, Psychiatry, Geriatric, Learning Disabilities, Adolescence/ Juveniles with behavioural difficulties, Children in Foster Care, Victims and Perpetrators of Sexual Abuse, and private practice. 

This submission relates to Zoning matters re: Hebron Business Park area within the Draft Plan. We are located at Unit 17 and operate a small but vibrant health and fitness service that serves the surrounding communities. 

The club developed out of a growing need for a specialised health and fitness facility for  the city and county and began operating out of Unit 17 for a number of reasons: 

  • Proximity - The location of this Business Park is ideal from all routes within and around the surrounding areas. 
  • Accessibility - Access to the Business Park is convenient for service users and accommodates traffic adequately. (We have been offered additional land to accommodate additional parking, if needed). 
  • Availability  - After numerous attempts to set up in other locations, no suitable premises could be located to run a specialised service of this calibre. 
  • Value - The cost of premises in this area were/ are more in keeping with what might be considered affordable in order to develop a business like this and therefore give our service a chance to grow, as it has done. 


It is important to note that as co-owner of this service, and after over twenty years of involvement in the area of competitive sport, exercise and fitness, the objective of our service is not just to sustain employment but also to afford us the opportunity to share our expertise and experience and give something back to the community. Our service is far from a large money-making complex based solely on revenue, It is a unique service with immense benefit to the city and surrounding area and as co-owner and co-ordinator of this service, I take a less than average wage and always re-invest back into the service to develop it further for the benefit of the communities and service users. 

To corroborate this, our staff team are made up of some highly trained and experienced individuals such as international strength athlete, James Fennelly, who appears on National and International TV regularly and became the first Irish strength athlete in history to appear on ‘World’s Strongest Man’. We also have former Olympic athlete, Adrian O’Dwyer as part of our specialised team in addition to many more highly experienced individuals that specialise in different area of exercise and fitness and who proudly represent and put our hometown of Kilkenny on the map in other sporting areas, right across the globe. 

It is imperative to point out that the current Draft Plan does not give countenance to the numerous business in this area that operate beyond the parameters of what this area is purposely zoned for; namely ‘Industry/ Warehousing’. It therefore does not support our ongoing attempt to apply for Retention in order to develop further, in keeping with current Planning Regulations, despite our best efforts and a number of meeting/ discussions with Planning. In a general context, it seems to fall short of allowing for specialised services that are profoundly lacking within Kilkenny in general, i.e. services like ours that serve communities in the area of fitness and wellbeing and in the area of specialised training for competitive sports. 

I am equally aware of the benefits of exercise and fitness and community programmes that support these aspects of life. I am also equally aware of the profound threat that sedentary living is having on children and young adults in our community today, due to technology and limited public resources that focus on fitness and wellbeing, and this in turn is impacting greatly on our public health system and community in general. I have witnessed firsthand, the repercussions of this  both through my professional work as an art therapist within public and private practice, and through my work in the area of exercise and fitness. 

To date, the following services are availing of our club:

  • General club users of all ages, from beginners upwards, both male and female from Kilkenny and beyond, in addition to many unemployed youths.
  • Members of An Garda Siochana  
  • The Kilkenny Camogie Club
  • Kilkenny Cycling Club
  • Kilkenny Powerlifting Club
  • Kilkenny Boxing Academy
  • Kilkenny Strongman Club
  • Scoil Airgeal Transition Year Students 
  • Rehab Care
  • Ossory Youth (Availing of our recently developed Health Initiative to assist those with various addictions). 
  • Individual and professional athletes involved in varying sports such as boxing, golfing, athletics, strength sports, soccer, hurling, bodybuilding, powerlifting, endurance, etc. 
  • Women of all ages interested in Bootcamp classes, Yoga, Full Body Circuit Training, Pre-Post Natal Classes, etc.
  • Students of Health and Fitness academic courses and those training to be fitness instructors (work placement).  

In terms of community work, I have recently launched our Fitness and Lifestyle initiative to external services, working with marginalised communities and affording those on the margins of society an opportunity to avail of our club services and the specialised skills of our staff team. The Initiative runs over a number of weeks and involves many aspects of health and fitness, including the learning process of exercise, and workshops on wellbeing and mental health, in association with Rehab Care in Dublin. The initiative has received the support of Kilkenny Leader Partnership and i am currently looking at working with the following services: 

  • Youth Programmes
  • Kilkenny Traveller Movement
  • Men’s Sheds
  • Marginalised Communities
  • Family Resource Centres
  • Mental and Physical Care Groups
  • Community Development Groups
  • Retired & Elderly

In relation to charity work, the service has helped and are helping the following, through our profiles and the sporting profiles of some of our staff team and through the service itself:

  • Irish Heart Foundation
  • Irish Cancer Society
  • Mental Health Awareness 
  • Rehab Care, Ireland
  • Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent De Paul
  • Cois Noir

This in itself augments the value and importance of a service of this nature and it proximity and location for additional service users.

It is also important to convey that this service is keeping seven people in employment, including the additional services that depend on our club to make a living. I have also managed to get a number of these working staff off of the Live Register by assisting with their Business Plans and helping them to obtain a Back To Work Allowance (BTWA), and subsequently offering our service as a means to kickstart their careers, helping them to become independently employed. Furthermore, we are all the time supportive of affording students placements on work experience. 

As a specialised service, we are requesting that the zoning for this area is reviewed again and expanded to include sports and leisure or that a clause can be included in the overall Plan to include amenities such as these in this area, therefore allowing services like ours to grow and develop for the good of communities and business in general. Great care must be taken to protect the integrity and value of services that promote wellbeing in a society that is currently and incessantly permeated with alcohol, drugs and profoundly distorted media messages that seldom promote genuine quality of life or basic wellbeing. 

We therefore would be extremely grateful if you revise the zoning relating to this area, taking into account all of the above during the review process.


First Name: 
Last Name: 
Name of Organisation or Group: 
Fennelly Fitness
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