Traders in one of Munster’s oldest suburban shopping centres have given a qualified welcomed to plans for a €100m regeneration of the complex.
The traders’ association in Wilton Shopping Centre, in Cork’s western suburbs, said the facility needs investment and modernisation.
However, they said they hoped the centre’s owners, Clarendon Properties, would ensure the revamp did not create an “old versus new” scenario, which could compromise footfall and trade in the original mall area.
“There is no doubt that Wilton Shopping Centre needs investment and a revamp,” a spokesman for the traders’ association said.
“The plans are big and impressive, but we would have concerns about some elements of the proposals.
“For example, we would have concerns that some of the existing entrances could become redundant and that could affect the footfall pattern through the traditional mall areas. The developers must ensure that the new design doesn’t create an ‘old versus new’ scenario.
“We hope that Clarendon will work more closely with us, as this project moves forward.”
The spokesman, who represents 60 traders employing 500 people, was speaking after Clarendon unveiled draft proposals, for their ambitious Wilton Town Centre regeneration project, at a public meeting in Wilton on Thursday.
As first reported in Thursday’s Irish Examiner, Clarendon plans to retain the centre’s existing malls, while redeveloping the entire northern side of the complex, with a vast new two-storey, mixed retail-use area on the site of the Penney’s outlet, which faces demolition, along with a multi-screen cinema, hotel, two new public plazas and a multi-storey car park.
Larger-scale regeneration plans by the centre’s previous owners, approved by An Bord Pleanála in 2011, never proceeded. However, planning for that scheme is valid for another two years.
A spokesman for Clarendon said they have spent 18 months examining that scheme, the observations and objections, and the relevant statutory documents, and new proposals resolve many of the contentious issues raised, while capitalising on the strengths of the existing centre.
Cllr John Buttimer and Wilton Rd residents’ spokesman, John Leahy, said they had concerns about the development’s impact on traffic in the congested suburb.
Wilton Shopping Centre opened in 1979. Its ownership has changed hands on several occasions.
Currently, it is anchored by a 24-hour Tesco and a Penneys, with 50 traders occupying the smaller units. Wilton library is on the same campus. The centre is opposite CUH, Wilton church, and the Wilton pub.
Clarendon, which is also behind plans for the €160m HQ development on Horgan’s Quay in Cork’s docklands, hopes to lodge a planning application for the Wilton project within months.
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