The Green Party has welcomed the recent comments made by Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan that the days of having massive out of town developments were over.
Minister Hogan made the remarks at a regional planning seminar in Maynooth and stated his commitment towards the regeneration of town centres. Green Party Environment spokesperson Cllr Malcolm Noonan says the policy shift must now be reflected in development plans and retail strategies.
“Having campaigned for many years against reckless zoning by councils of out of town retail development, the ‘Tescoisation’ of our regional towns and the decimation that this has caused to family owned business, Minister Hogan’s comments are to be welcomed as a change in Government policy,” he said.
“Minister Hogan’s comments coupled with the actions of his counterpart in Northern Ireland, Minister Alex Attwood in blocking a retail development which didn’t constitute ‘bulky goods’ in a retail park in Newry shows that a changed attitude now prevails among policymakers.”
“As local authorities in Kilkenny, I feel that no further out of town or edge of town retail should take place and our priorities should be about protecting and enhancing the retail core of the historic city. This would have implications for brownfield sites such as the old cattle mart but research and development facilities, green tech or digital hub starter units could be developed in such sites as well as amenity areas as part of an overall strategy to attract sustainable employment,” he said.
Cllr Noonan has now called on the minister to build on his comments by initiating an action plan to tackle the crisis facing the indigenous retail sector. He says it could better inform local authorities and An Bord Pleanala on how they adjudicate future applications.
“Kilkenny has fared better than most regional towns and still retains many excellent family owned businesses,” said Cllr Noonan.
“As policymakers we must do all in our power to retain the vibrancy of our city centre. My hope is that Minister Hogan takes a lead from is own comments by acting now to prevent further erosion and give local authorities clear direction that protection of our urban built heritage and family owned retailers should be paramount.”