DESPITE concerns that the commercial lifeblood is being sucked out of the centre of Killarney, a developing shopping complex on the outskirts of the town is to hold onto its retail zoning.
Local council management had recommended that the Deerpark complex, which includes Tesco, Marks & Spencer (M&S) and other well-known names, switch its zoning to “bulky goods” sales — such as carpets, furniture and automotive products.
However, FF councillor Brian O’Leary said larger retail stores could be turned away from Killarney if they could not locate in Deerpark.
He said there was a lack of infrastructure in the town centre and difficulties with parking for eight months of the year during the tourist season.
“If M&S could not open in Deerpark they might not have come to Killarney and other stores could also be turned away if retailers are not allowed in there,” Mr O’Leary argued.
Independent councillor Michael Courtney said the centre of Killarney was being “slowly choked”, with several shops already closed.
South Kerry Independent Alliance councillor Michael Gleeson also said it was important to retain the vibrancy of the town centre.
The council, however, voted in favour of the Deerpark area retaining its current retail/town centre zoning status rather than limiting new developments there solely to sales of bulky goods.
The issue arose during a meeting on a new Killarney town development plan.
Meanwhile, in a bid to ease parking problems in Killarney, the council is currently in negotiations with the owners of the former Torc Great Southern Hotel site.
The aim is to use the site to provide more parking spaces for cars and buses, close to the town centre.
FG councillor Sheila Casey said on-street parking of buses had a significant impact in the town, causing log jams and taking up spaces that could be used by other people.