Wednesday 11 December 2019

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Handbags over outlet village

Wednesday, 27th November, 2019 4:42pm

A new tourist outlet village proposed for East Cork has opinions divided amidst fears of a negative impact on business elsewhere.

A site for the €100 million project has been secured at Killacloyne, Carrigtwohill, just off the Fota Junction on the N25, with the project expected to create approximately 850 jobs.

Behind the proposal, which could attract 220,000 additional tourists to the region annually, is UK-based retail specialist Rioja Estates Ltd, Europe’s largest independent outlet promoter and developer, who plan for the village to be finished by 2024.

Speaking to the Cork Independent, Fine Gael Cllr for East Cork Susan McCarthy, said that, although she understands the concerns, she feels that overall the development will have a positive impact on the region.

She said: “I know that there are concerns over how it will affect town centres and the city centre, but the report that has been issued to us has case studies which look at similar outlet centres that have been set up across the UK.

“They have actually been proven to have a positive outcome on town centres in the area.”

However, Brian Fox, owner of Regatta Great Outdoors, told the Cork Independent that he is unconvinced by the new proposal and that it is far from a guaranteed success. Mr Fox said: “I’m sceptical, in that I appreciate that it’s a property play by a developer, not designed to enhance the Cork domestic consumer experience.

“While I appreciate that everyone’s entitled to a free market and a free economy, that development will be populated by huge global brands. I’d love the council to try to put more boutique type shops in the city. But there’s nowhere to shop in Cork. If you look at the US right now, shopping malls are in melt down, shutting down all over the place. It’s the same in Eastern Europe,” he said.

Cork-based architect and urbanist Karl Shane Dískín said: “As a consumer of retail goods same as anyone, I would of course like to have more choice and lower prices.

“But when I put my urbanist hat on and start thinking of the greater good, I must ask, is this going to be good for the county towns’ high streets, or good for the city retail sector? In my view it’s nonsense to claim that clothing and wares for sale in the retail outlet centre will not be in competition with those currently on sale in the towns.

“A coat is a coat, a pair of shoes is a pair of shoes, and a handbag is a handbag, regardless of whichever season it is or whichever brand it is.”

He continued: “The only way to deliver a ‘retail outlet centre’ that meets every criteria as described in the proposed County Development Plan amendments is to locate it within one of the many existing town retail centres already in existence across Cork county.”

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