County Kerry’s biggest retail park, Manor West on the outskirts of Tralee is set to expand by over 8,000 sq metres of retail space to provide for bulky goods.
The application by owners Ashman Developments Ltd, of The Ashe Hotel, Main Street, Tralee, for four retail stores, a mezzanine and garden centre, was granted in August by Kerry County Council.
However, that decision had been appealed to An Bord Plenála by the Grafton Group Ltd, the operators of the existing Woodies DIY store and garden centre in the park.
Manor West already has some 15 stores, mainly chain store outlets including TK Maxx, Curry’s, Homestore and More, Harvey Norman and Next.
Debenhams, Tescos and Sam McCauley pharmacy are among 26 retailers in a shopping centre at the northern end of the park.
The grant of permission by An Bord Pleanála allows for 330 car spaces – in addition to the 1,000 free car spaces already in Manor West.
In its appeal, the operator of Woodies submitted there was no basis for effectively developing a “mirror” store.
It also said the Retail Impact Assessment was deficient and failed to address adequately the real impact of the proposed development on existing retail in the immediate area and in the town of Tralee.
Traffic and issues around flooding were also raised as the expansion site is bounded by two rivers, the Clashlehane stream to the east and the Lee River to the south.
However planning inspector Kevin Moore said there was “no question” but the Tralee Town Plan had designated the current lands to the south of the park for further development and a spur already existed.
“Its location is entirely suited, forming a natural extension to the retail park, at a serviceable location, with direct access to the site,” Mr Moore said.
The catchment area extended to west Limerick, Dingle and North Cork and while there was no local study specific to the area, the applicant’s assessment based on studies for bulky goods in Cork and elsewhere was reasonable “and has demonstrated a significant surplus in expenditure in the catchment area,” the inspector found.
Because it was limited to trade in “bulky” goods the proposed development would not have a significant adverse retail impact on Tralee town centre or the existing retail park at this location, the inspector also found.