Irland’s Minister for the Environment and Local Government, Noel Dempsey, rocked the development world in June when he issued a two page General Policy Directive on Shopping that imposed an outright ban on new superstore developments of over 32,000 square feet of floor space. The directive is an interim measure pending completion of a study on the implications of large-scale retail developments. “Changing retail patterns pose complex questions,” Dempsey told the Irish Times newspaper, “and there is a need for comprehensive guidelines for planning authorities. The introduction of very large scale retail shopping developments, typically situated close to national roads, gives rise to a range of unprecedented issues. Up to now the vast majority of planning applications have merely local effect. This is not true of large-scale retail shopping developments which can have an impact on areas far removed from their locations.” The Irish independent grocers association hailed the decision, blaming superstores for “threatening the viability of Irish towns and villages”. The English big box retailer Tesco, simply said they would be “seeking to ensure that the benefits of consumer choice and competition can be accomodated in future retail developments.” The Minister’s cap on size was seen as a major win for smaller retailers. The cap took effect June 10, 1998. The new policy flatly states: “Planning permission should not be granted for a supermarket, the retail floor space of which exceeds 3,000 square meters, whether such development involves an extension to existing development or otherwise.” The Directive goes on to say that retail shopping developments that “would constitute a substantial addition to existing retail facilities of that type within the perceived catchment area of the proposed development” shall be guided by 6 factors: 1) the adequacy of existing retail shopping outlets; 2) the size and location of existing retail outlets; 3) the quality and convenience of existing retail shopping outlets; 4) the effect on existing communities, including in particular the effect on established retail shopping outletes and on employment; 5) the needs of those who may be dependent on the availability of retail shopping outlets within walking distance and 6) the need to counter urban decline and to promote urban renewal and to promote the optimum utilization of existing infrastructure in urban areas.
To see a copy of Minister Dempsey’s directive, go to: http://www.irishnews.com/k%5Farchive/150998/nbusiness1.html