Galway City Council has given the go-ahead to German supermarket chain Lidl to open a store in Wellpark Retail Park – with planning permission granted to the discount retailer to operate from a unit previously occupied by PC World.
Radical Properties, the owner of Wellpark Retail Park, sought permission from the local authority for a change of use of the retail space from bulky retail use to a discount supermarket and off licence.
The way has now been cleared for the retailer to begin alterations at the site which include works to install trolley bays and a customer lift to the basement carpark.
Permission has been granted, subject to a number of conditions that must be met by the retailer – including amendments to the signage proposed and a request for a comprehensive signage strategy, prior to commencement of the development.
The local authority must also be made aware of operating hours of the store, prior to construction, and the store’s operators are compelled to provide surface-level bicycle parking in close proximity to the main entrance of the unit.
In total there were two objections to the application – one from RGDATA, a representative association for independent family-owned grocery outlets nationwide, and the other from Tirellan Heights resident Brian Conway.
RGDATA cited concerns that location on the eastern outskirts of the city would have a detrimental effect on the city centre.
The group claimed the site was not appropriately zoned for the proposed store – and that parking facilities and road infrastructure in the vicinity were not adequate.
However, Council planners stated that the net retail floor area of the unit, amounting to 962 square metres, was just under three per cent of the amount estimated to be required by the city in 2023.
“In light of the zoning objectives for the Wellpark Retail Park, it is considered that the quantum of retail floor space proposed is acceptable for the catchment area and will provide an important local retailing facility for the local area.
“It is considered that the quantum of retail floor space proposed will not impact negatively on the vitality and vibrancy of a City Centre retail core,” the planner’s report reads.
The applicant submitted a traffic report which showed over a four-day period in June 2018, the maximum number of spaces in use in the car park at the retail park at any one time was 45 per cent.
The planner stated: “It is acknowledged that, at the time of the survey, a number of units within the Wellpark Retail Park were vacant, including those of the subject planning application, which would increase parking demand.
“However, notwithstanding this, noting the figures contained in the car parking survey and given that the proposal will not result in a significant intensification of use on site, with a change of use, from retail bulky goods to retail, it is considered that the existing on-site car parking, in tandem with the proposed 18 number car parking spaces, can accommodate the proposed change of use.”
Mr Conway’s objection requested that the change of use not be granted and the units should be retained for bulky retail use.
Before the commencement of development, as a condition to planning permission, the applicant must pay City Council a contribution of €36,813 for the cost of services to facilitate the development.