The issue of whether German discounters should be allowed to trade out of retail parks has surfaced again, this time in Navan where An Bord Pleanála has blocked a plan by Lidl to open a store in a newly completed park on the outskirts of the town.
The decision will be a major blow to the park which is struggling to assemble a line-up of tenants. With some planning authorities in favour of German discounters and fashion outlets in retail parks, and the appeals board failing to maintain a consistent line on these issues, developers are frustrated by the lack of clarity.
In the case of the Navan Retail Park, the board cited the retail planning guidelines set down by the Department of the Environment in 2005, cautioning against out-of-town retailing of goods other than bulky goods. The Navan town development plan also favoured retail development within the town centre.
An interesting projection by the board’s inspector in this case was that Lidl would have a turnover of €9 million by 2012 out of “an estimated catchment surplus expenditure capacity” of €29.8 million. What gobbledegook!