Monday 5 March 2007

Local retailers worried by approval for Tesco in Sligo

TESCO has been given the green light to construct a four-storey building on O'Connell Street in Sligo incorporating a major new supermarket and a number of residential units. An Bord Pleanála rejected objections from local traders in the adjacent arcade area to the proposed development which will necessitate the partial demolition of an existing supermarket and will include 11 two-bed apartments.

The retail area will take up the ground and first floor of the new building, providing 2,204sq m of space. The proposed development includes lans to upgrade and refurbish the mall area with the provision of a new entrance from Wine Street car park.

Planning permission was granted subject to 22 conditions including the stipulation that all servicing of the proposed development is carried out at basement level.

Sligo Borough Council originally granted permission for the development in May last year but appeals were lodged with the planning authorities by McGowan's Photoshop, an adjacent store, and by the Tenants' Association of Sligo Shopping Centre, which represents the other businesses in the arcade.

McGowan's appealed the original decision on the grounds that it has a leasehold interest in the site with 23 years remaining. McGowan's further claimed that the unit they have leased in the arcade will be "obliterated" by the development. The appellants said their permission for the development was not sought prior to the lodgement of the application.

In its appeal, the tenants' association claimed "adequate safeguards were not in place to ensure small businesses could continue to operate during the construction phase". It stressed the importance of "avoiding disruption to the vitality, viability and operation of existing retail operators" and noted that "the city plan acknowledges the importance of small town-centre retailers".

"It's essential we make sure there continues to be room for the small operator who's offering the public a unique service you don't get from a multinational, " says local Sinn Féin councillor and general-election candidate Sean McManus.

Tesco will have to pay the Borough Council over Euro1.2m in contributions and bonds to cover expenditure incurred by the planning authority in respect of public infrastructure and facilities and to secure the satisfactory completion and maintenance of services. A spokesperson for Tesco last week said the planned development demonstrated the company's commitment to Sligo town.

Sunday Tribune 2007

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