A British-based company is proposing to build a €100m retail centre, similar to Kildare Village, on the eastern outskirts of Cork city, which it says will create more than 850 permanent jobs and a further 640 during construction.
Rioja Estates plans to create a 'Tourist Outlet Village' (TOV) close to the IDA industrial estate at Killacloyne, Carrigtwohill.
Rioja Estates, which describes itself as 'the largest independent outlet promoter and developer in Europe', has in the past 25 years created more than 4 million sq.ft. of TOV floorspace at 13 outlets across Britain.
It is currently developing two more centres at Cannock, Staffordshire and Grantham, Lincolnshire
The company believes the Cork TOV will draw 220,000 additional tourists to the region annually.
A TOV is a specialist form of retail and tourist destination, drawing visitors from a two-hour drive radius.
TOVs sell premium brands as well as heavily discounted products not normally found on the high street — for example end-of-line, seconds and out of season goods.
Rioja Estates says it will be similar to Kildare Village, which opened in 2006.
The company carried out “extensive research over the last four years” which it says shows there is room for another TOV in Ireland.
A detailed search for potential sites throughout Ireland was undertaken and it quickly became clear that Cork is the preferred setting.
The company said Carrigtwohill is the optimum site as it is served by a very good road network, has a rail link and is very close to tourist attractions such as Spike Island, Fota Wildlife Park, Fota House, the Titanic Experience, The Queenstown Story, Cobh's deep water cruise liner terminal, and Jameson Distillery in Midleton.
The current County Development Plan (CDP) will need to be amended to accommodate such centres being constructed in Cork.
The company has already made a detailed submission to Cork County Council on the project and a report will be given to councillors on it by the end of next month. It's expected councillors will then vote on the recommendations of their management by the end of January.
Subject to their approval, the company said it will lodge a planning application for the project in mid-2020 and will engage with the local community and businesses in the interim.
As part of the plan Rioja Estates proposes to carry out specific road improvements in the area.
Managing director of Rioja Estates, Giles Membrey, said their extensive research has shown "that there is room for one more Tourist Outlet Village in Ireland".
Mr Membrey added: “We are an off-peak trader as we open at 10am and close at 8pm, and therefore we have no impact on any rush hour traffic.”
The retail park is expected to take 24 months to build and Rioja Estates hopes to open the retail centre by March, 2024.