23 Mar 2009

A while back, I opined that An Bord Pleanala’s decision to prevent Heatons from moving into a ‘bulky goods only’ retail park on the outskirts of Carrick-on-Suir wouldn’t lead to the closure of any of Heatons’ other outlets already operating in Bulky Goods Parks elsewhere in the country. Perhaps I’m about to be proved wrong. For, in a totally separate situation, An Bord ruled a couple of weeks ago that discount fashion retailer, TK Maxx, were in breach of planning by operating an outlet at the Butlerstown Bulky Goods Park on the outskirts of Waterford. The County Council is about to shut them down.

The background to this is years of ding-dong between the City and the County about both the siting of retail parks as well as the type of traders who are being allowed to take up leases in them: the City is annoyed at the County’s policy of granting planning permissions to develop Bulky Parks right on the city/county border and then ignoring the retail guidelines by allowing non-bulky retailers to move in, thereby sucking the rich-urban-experience/rates out of the city centre.

In a strange irony, it wasn’t the City but rather a disgruntled local developer who brought the matter to the Bord’s attention. And now, no doubt, disgruntled developers all over the country are lining up to get their own back on rivals by challenging the bulkiness of the goods being sold by PCWorld, Smyths, Argos, Elverys, Mothercare and all the other Bulky Goods Park habitués in full expectation of having them put out of business.

When the bureaucrats were writing the retail sales guidelines, didn’t it occur to anyone that the term ‘bulky’ was, perhaps, an inadvisably non-technical one to be using in the context of the Irish planning system where all that ever happens is a) new grey areas are predictably exploited by a certain element of the community who’s only interest is personal gain and b) the rest of us are left to pay when the same grey areas stops laying golden eggs? (Sorry.)

Meanwhile, I understand An Bord is now considering ordering Homebase to stop selling nails, pots of paint, pelmets, lampshades, cappuccinos, rawl plugs, wallpaper, kettles, steamers, juicers, weighing scales and toilet seats. 

Monday, March 23, 2009 10:35:59 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Spot on.

Most zoning objectives are so vague that almost anything can get built.

How many CDPs have zoning objectives along the lines of "to protect the existing residential amenity" on land upon which PP is granted for mega estates full of yellow houses.

Why not make the zoning objective explicit and say " in this field we will build a thousand identical houses and a very large creche. Residents will need GPS to find their houses" At least that way there won't be too much confusion.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009 2:10:05 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Don't you think that now, with so few applications going through the system, local authorities could direct their resources to getting development plans right?
Thursday, March 26, 2009 11:05:32 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
But they have been "right" all along, give the zoning to the "right" people. What's "wrong" with that?
Friday, March 27, 2009 7:42:21 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I know, F. They're not the people for the job. We need radical, radical, radical change.
Friday, March 27, 2009 11:59:46 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
In this case, I am in favour of 'law is the law' approach. The Local Authority granted permission in defiance of their own development plan and the councillors who approved the 'bulky' zoning are now howling with rage at the Board's decision. The French expression 'l'arroseur arrosé' comes to mind. While the Board's decision in this case is correct and in any case the County Council were trying to pull a fast one on Waterford City council by thumbing their noses at the City's development plan, you know that there is no hope for the system when the County Mayor's only comment afterwards was to attack the appellant as being an 'upstart from Co Kilkenny who thinks he can come to Waterford and tell us what to do' (or words to that effect).
We are long way from a national debate on this issue, I'm afraid.

fintan duffy
Friday, March 27, 2009 9:32:32 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I agree with you Fintan, the County Council (members and executive) are to blame. What bothers me is that the REST OF US ARE LEFT TO PICK UP THE PIECES! What are we to do? Close down TK Maxx and a) put (underpriveleged) people (always women) out of work and b) surrender a large structure to inevitable anti-social behaviour of some sort or other?

I'm tired of this, Fintan. I'm tired of it. Why are we still putting up with this crap.
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