East Cork Councillors Urged to Reject Inclusion of Kildare Village Type Outlet In County Development Plan

By Seamus Whelehan

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Opponents of a change to the Cork County Development Plan, to zone a major tract of land, close to East Cork, for the future development of a major retail space, are urging Councillors to reject the proposal.

The development, which could see up to €100million redirected to the site, from Cork City and County retail outlets, is currently being considered by the County’s 55 Councillors.

The Public consultation period on the development of a Kildare Village style outlet for Metropolitan Cork will close tomorrow, Friday 22 November.

Three sites have been identified in East Cork as possible locations for a Retail Outlet Centre.

Glounthaune Community Association says the proposed retail space could destroy fragile local business, if it was to go ahead.

Carol Harpur, from the Community Association’s, Sustainable Development Committee, says the plan appears to be a move by Council top brass to increase its coffers, having lost a substantial part of its rate base in the recent City expansion.

On 31 May this year Cork City almost doubled its population, to include the Satellite towns of Glanmire, Douglas, Blarney, Ballincollig and parts of Passage, taking with it the commercial and property tax of an estimated €55million.

Ms Harpur said that, rather than creating space for a massive outlet centre, “the Council should look at what people like about Kildare Village, such as the pleasant pedestrian shopping area, the well-presented shops, streets and seating areas, the top quality toilet and baby changing facilities, great accessibility for wheel chair users, and replicate all of that, across our towns and villages.”

A detailed study carried out by the Local Authority, suggests that if developed the retail space could divert nearly €3million per annum from Midleton businesses alone, and €83 million from the City and County annually, said Ms Harpur.

She said it is possible that the current plan to upgrade the N25 junction at Cobh Cross could be a precursor to the development, which will take in €100million per year in sales.

“That money won’t appear out of thin air.  It will be diverted from retailers, shops, restaurants and cafes all over Cork.”

“The Executive may see it as easy money in rates, and somehow as a major boost to quality of life in East Cork, keeping us happy with Calvin Klein’s from Carrigtwohill!” Ms Harpur said.

Earlier this month County Director of Roads, Padraig Barrett, said his Department is working with Transport Infrastructure Ireland to improve junction 3 of the N25, Cobh Cross, one of the most stressed locations for traffic in the County.

Cork City Council expressed similar concerns to that of the Glounthaune Community Association last month.

City Cllrs said they couldn’t back such a scheme in Metropolitan Cork, describing the retail outlet as “premature” and that it would impact negatively on City centre trade.

Cork County Council in a statement said that the Study on the Requirement for Retail Outlet Centres in the Cork Metropolitan area, clearly states that centres such as Mahon, Blackpool, Douglas, Wilton and Ballincollig and the other main stand-alone town of Midleton, generally offer middle order comparison retailing.

The spokesperson said “as such the impact on them is less than, for the city centre and they are generally not in direct competition with a Retail Outlet Centre.”

“Midleton, which is identified as a potential location, would directly benefit if selected as a location. This is reflected in the allocation of trade associated with the outlet” she said.

The Council added that “any specific proposal for a Retail Outlet Centre would have to be supported by a Retail Impact Assessment showing what impacts such a proposal would have on the vitality and viability of existing retail centres such as Midleton.”

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