Cork does not need ‘tourist outlet village’, say businesses

Cork does not need a Kildare Village-style centre, business leaders have told Cork County Council.
Cork does not need ‘tourist outlet village’, say businesses

Additional reporting: Eoin English

Cork does not need a Kildare Village-style centre, business leaders have told Cork County Council.

They have said the closure of Debenhams in Cork city centre is one reason why planning permission should not be given for a €100m “tourist outlet village” near Carrigtwohill.

The Cork Business Association (CBA) says the council’s decision to change the 2014 County Development Plan to allow for the development of a 100,000sq m retail centre in the Cork region is “against proper planning and sustainable development”.

The decision should not, according to the CBA, have been made before both city and county councils updated their existing retail strategy for the Cork region as they are required to under retail planning guidelines.

The CBA is making these points in its submission to the county council about its decision to vary the county development plan.

It says in its submission that “there is ample space within the city centre” to accommodate the number of retail outlets that could fill the proposed Kildare Village-style outlet centre.

This is evidenced by the “recent announcement that a major anchor store on St Patrick St (Debenhams) has closed”, it said.

The CBA said there are also a number of vacant units in the Savoy Shopping Centre and Merchants Quay Shopping Centre as well as the entirety of the North Main St Shopping Centre.

Plans for the outlet centre suffered a setback last December when the State’s planning watchdog recommended Cork County Council should not vary its 2014 development plan to accommodate it.

The Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR) claimed a proposed change that would allow for the construction of the centre was inconsistent with the government’s 2012 retail planning guidelines.

UK property firm Rioja Estates announced its €100m plans last November for the “tourist outlet village” on a site at Killacoyne outside Carrigtwohill.

It said it would create over 850 direct jobs and attract 220,000 additional tourists to the region annually.

It said it hoped to open the “retail and tourist destination”, selling heavily-discounted end-of-line clothing and other luxury items not normally found on the high street, by March 2024.

The OPR claimed the proposed change to the county council’s development plan is not consistent with the 2012 retail planning guidelines. These recommend outlet centres should not be located in any more out-of-town locations.

A study by the council found there was capacity to accommodate a retail outlet centre of up to 100,000sq m in the Cork region and it would only affect up to 1% of existing business on retailers in the city centre.

The CBA said it will maintain a firm stance against a retail outlet centre if the retail sector and its members will be negatively affected.

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