Set to take effect on Feb. 1, the amended Retail Planning Guidelines were hailed by Environment Minister Dick Roche as a chance to widen choice and increase competition, while critics slammed the plan as dangerous to Ireland’s smaller businesses and transportation infrastructure.
Calling it “good news for the Irish consumer,” Roche announced that the lifting of the ban by his department would make for increased retail interest in Ireland by foreign companies.
The designated areas, dubbed “gateways” by Ireland’s National Spatial Strategy, are subject to the Integrated Area Plans under the Urban Renewal Act of 1998.
The cap on retail store sizes that dictated stores no larger than 6,000 square meters could be built was introduced in 2001.
For retailers that currently run operations in Ireland, the ban means they now have the option to expand as well, provided they are in the selected areas.
The zones involved are in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Waterford, Limerick-Shannon, Sligo, Dundalk, Letterkenny and Athlone-Tullamore-Mullingar, and, according to the government’s IAP plan, are in cities and large towns where there is the greatest area of physical decay and social and economic disadvantage.
The first development under the new guidelines will most likely be an Ikea store in the Ballymun section of Dublin.
The project is in cooperation with Ballymun Regeneration Limited, a Dublin City Council outfit that was formed in 1997 to help improve the lives of the area’s 30,000 residents.
The Swedish-based home furnishing store, which had 348 million visitors to their 180 stores in 2004, employs 84,000 workers in 44 countries.
In the fiscal year for 2004, the company had