A €100m RETAIL outlet centre – similar to Kildare Village ¬ – could be on the cards for Carrigtwohill after councillors this week cleared the way by voting to change policy in its County Development Plan.
British company Rioja Estates hopes to build the retail village at a site in Carrigtwohill, which will take 24 months to build and create more than 850 permanent jobs, subject to receiving planning permission from Cork County Council.
The amendment drew strong debate across the chamber with several councillors expressing their concerns about the effect such a centre would have on towns and villages across Cork county.
Cllr Holly Cairns (SD) said she was ‘baffled’ by this proposal and added that both the Cork Business Association and Cork City Council have expressed concern about the potential effect it would have on businesses in the city
‘It’s easy to say that this development will create X amount of jobs, but what about the existing jobs it will harm. It will be taking more footfall away from our towns, villages and cities,’ said Cllr Cairns.
Cllr Liam Quaide (GP) said he was not in favour of a ‘gigantic retail outlet’ which he said ‘will promote unsustainable car dependency and the undermining of small local businesses.’
However, Cllr Susan McCarthy (FG), who has her own retail business in Midleton, said that an outlet centre like this will hit online traders more and described it as ‘niche shopping.’
Cllr Alan Coleman (Ind) described it as a ‘positive move’ which he said would add to what Cork has to offer and that if Cork didn’t take it, the development could go to Limerick or elsewhere.
Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) also agreed that Cork should not miss out on this opportunity and said that if they stall, someone else ‘will take up the mantle’, while Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy (FF) said it would be a ‘counter balance ‘ to Kildare Village.
Chief executive Tim Lucey said the Council is satisfied that a proposal like this would not have an adverse effect on other retailers, and that it can be of significant benefit to the Cork metropolitan economy as a whole.
Following a request for a recess, councillors eventually voted in favour by 42 to 4 – with county mayor Cllr Christopher O’Sullivan abstaining from the vote of varying the County Development Plan ‘to provide strategic planning policy support for the provision of a Retail Outlet Centre’ in the N25 corridor area.