NEW legislation mean that the prospect of a hypermarket being located in Dundalk look increasingly unlikely – a move welcomed by manager of the Marshes Shopping Centre.
It has been muted that UK retailer ASDA has designs on building a “hypermarket” style outlet in Dundalk, but under the new legisilation will be effectively ruled out.
New retail planning guidelines, published by the Department of the Environment, will allow larger supermarkets and superstores to set up shop in Dublin and larger cities, but not in towns will lower urban populations such as Dundalk.
Manager of the Marshes Shopping Centre says that the decision was the “sensible” one.
“My own personal view is that this is not bad news at all.
“Retailers are really challenged at the moment and I think this decision was the sensible one in that context.”
The new rules will reduce the number of locations where “warehouse stores”, such as Ikea or large DIY and garden retailers, can be built.
According to the new guideliens the caps on retail space for Dundalk will see no area larger then 3,000 m2.
However in Dublin that limit is now at 4,000m2, while areas in the other four main cities have floorspace limit of 3,500m2.
“We are well catered for by the supermarkets here in Dundalk, between Dunnes Stores and Tesco, and also Lidl and Aldi.
“As a town we don’t have the critical habitiation to support a hypermarket, and a hypermarket, which are usually built out of town, would suck people out of the town centre.”
According to Minister Hogan the guidelines are “designed to ensure that the planning system plays a key role in ensuring competitiveness in the retail sector advancing choice for the consumer while promoting and supporting the vitality and viability of city and town centres and contributing to a high standard of urban design and encouraging a greater use of sustainable transport.”
Basically put, the Government want to stop a situation where a giant retailer removed shoppers from the town centre.
The floorspace rules will apply to new shops and to extensions of existing premises. The previous guidelines made a distinction between general supermarkets and “discount food stores”, which were to generally be below 1,500 sq m in size. The new guidelines remove this distinction.
Minister Hogan highlighted that “It is very important that the planning system provides a clear framework for the continued development of the retail sector in a way that provides certainty for retailers and communities in the relevant policy framework, in the assessment of development proposals in ensuring good vitality of the places retail activity takes place within and ultimately ensuring competitiveness, nationally, regionally and locally.