Wednesday, 12 December 2007

€200m Tralee retail development draws concerns from businesses

OBJECTIONS are already surfacing to yet another huge shopping development planned for Tralee.

The proposed €200 million retail complex is destined to change the face of Kerry’s county town.

Backed by a Kerry consortium, the project envisages the creation of 1,000 jobs in a redeveloped Austin Stack Park, the county’s GAA grounds.

Reportedly the biggest project of its kind in Kerry, the proposed promoters are businessmen John Casey and Seamus O’Halloran.

But, among those lodging reservations or making submissions to Tralee Town Council about the project, are Tralee Chamber of Commerce, the Garvey supermarket group and Denis Rusk, manager of the town’s Manor West Retail Park.

Their concerns include traffic congestion, lack of parking facilities and fears that a development of such a huge scale would threaten the survival of existing business in Tralee town centre.

The council has already rezoned Austin Stack Park from “park/recreation” to “town centre” status, paving the way for the building of a large number of shops, including a high-profile anchor tenant, brand name stores, a financial services centre and up to 2,000 parking spaces.

The development would also see the GAA move to a new 15,000-seater stadium, a mile away at Ballybeggan Park Racecourse which is soon to be sold.

Tralee town councillor Kieran Moriarty said the council had unanimously decided to rezone the Austin Stack property.

He claimed the Garvey group and others were objecting because the development would “provide competition for them in their own backyard”.

He said any project creating 1,000 jobs should be welcomed.

“If this project gets the go-ahead, it will be a massive boost for Tralee,” Mr Moriarty said. “It will send out the signal that Tralee is vibrant and willing to accept competition.” Meanwhile, the long-running row about plans by Marks and Spencer (M&S) to open in Tralee is unresolved and a decision on whether M&S can proceed is expected, next month.

Town centre businesses claimed they would lose €17.5m to the& store, earmarked for the Manor West Retail Park, on the southside of the town.

A decision by Tralee Town Council to reject the €6m M&S plan provoked public fury earlier this year. Councillors said they took the decision to protect the town centre where businesses are being hit by competition from out-of-town shopping facilities in Manor West.

Irish Examiner

No comments: