By Joe Leogue
SuperValu has been accused of using the planning laws to “thwart competition”, jeopardising employment, after the owner of one of the chain’s supermarkets in a Cork town objected to proposals to expand a rival store across the road from his business.
Last month, Cork County Council had granted Lidl planning permission to demolish its existing 1,342 sq m store in Fermoy, and an adjacent 745 sq m unit that formerly operated as A Touch of Luxury, to make way for a new 2,167 sq m supermarket with ancillary off-licence and bakery.
On Monday, the Irish Examiner revealed the decision has been appealed to An Bord Pleanála by Michael Riordan — owner of the SuperValu supermarket directly across the road from the Lidl premises.
In his objection, Mr Riordan said the proposed development is not suitable for its Courthouse Rd setting, the main road into Fermoy from the east.
“This prominent gateway site demands a building of much higher quality and merit than is currently proposed,” states Mr Riordan’s submission.
Responding to the appeal, Lidl yesterday issued a statement in which it accused SuperValu of using planning law to target rival businesses.
“While the building design has been listed among its reasons for objecting, it is clear SuperValu is continuing to use the planning process as a delaying tactic to thwart competition and expansion plans that have been welcomed by local residents,” states Lidl.
“The multimillion investment in the store rebuild will now be delayed by up to nine months while An Bord Pleanála’s decision is awaited, resulting in undue delays to investment and employment in the local area.
“If approved, the development would create 100 jobs during the construction of the store in addition to a further 10 full-time retail jobs post completion.
“Given the endorsement by Cork County Council and the strong local support for the development, Lidl are confident that An Bord Pleanála will recognise SuperValu’s objections as an unfounded delaying tactic.”
Responding, Mr Riordan yesterday told the Irish Examiner that: “As a business owner who works and lives in Fermoy, I am fully supportive of the development of a thriving, sustainable community.
“An Bord Pleanála will provide a determination in relation to the proposed redevelopment and, during that process, it would be inappropriate to comment on the matter.”
Riordan’s has operated on Courthouse Rd since the 1980s, when it took over the former Top Hat dancehall premises. Lidl’s store opened in 2001.
This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner.