German discount supermarket chain Lidl is planning to open a store in Wellpark Retail Park.
Radical Properties – which owns the retail park – has sought permission for a change of use of the former PC World premises from bulky retail use to a discount supermarket with off licence.
The plans also involve creating a new customer lift in the opposite block (at Petmania) to the basement carpark.
Around 25 new jobs would be created if the proposal is given the go ahead by City Hall.
According to the application: “Wellpark Retail Park is an established independent retail centre and the proposed development will enhance the range of goods and services which is offered there. The addition of a convenience store to the retail park will not materially diminish the prospect of attracting private sector investment within the city centre.
“It will enhance the competitiveness of the convenience retail sector in the catchment area and will attract further customers to the retail park. All of the existing stores within the park are likely to derive a complementary benefit from an increase in the number of shoppers who will visit.”
The applicants pointed out that a similar application in 2006 for a change of use at an adjacent unit in the retail park was rejected as the plans did not comply with the provisions of the CI (Commercial/Industrial) zoning.
However, the applicants point out that a specific objective was inserted in the City Development Plan 2017-23, so that the Council could consider a “full range of retail uses”, including for supermarkets with a net retail area of less than 2,500 square metres. The application is for a store with a net retail space of less than 1,000 sq m.
Radical Properties is now owned by property fund Alanis Capital. Its previous owner, Gerry Barrett, made a submission to the City Council in 2016 as part of the drafting process for the City Development Plan asking that a planning stipulation be ‘relaxed’ in a bid to tackle the “disproportionately high” failure of bulky goods retails in Wellpark Retail Park.
Under the previous City Development Plan, there was an objective that the retail park could only cater for bulky goods and local retailing needs.
“The disproportionately high failure rate of a number of bulky good operators within Wellpark has impacted on the attractiveness of the existing floorspace to new operators and existing more durable tenants.
“If a more diverse range of retail mixes were permitted, it would allow the current vacancy rate within the Park to be reduced and ensure additional footfall, increased vitality and commercial synergy at this central location,” Mr Barrett’s submission read.
During a discussion in 2016 on whether to lift planning restrictions, Councillor Peter Keane described the retail park as an “abject failure” and said it would have collapsed long ago, only for the persistence of Mr Barrett in trying to reinvent it.
A decision on the current application is due on March 24.