Cork's oldest streets get rates boost to tackle vacancies

Cork's oldest streets get rates boost to tackle vacancies
Barrack Street, Cork. Pic; Larry Cummins

CORK'S historic spine will be targeted with a rates discount being offered to businesses opening new premises in a vacant property.

Cork City Council has launched a rates incentive scheme for businesses on North Main Street, Barrack Street and Shandon Street, all of which currently face high levels of vacancy.

The scheme will see a 50% grant paid in lieu of rates for three years to incentivise new businesses to occupy vacant retail units on the streets.

Artisan food businesses, specialist retail, restaurants and vintage clothing stores are just some of the types of business eligible to apply for the new scheme.

The announcement of the scheme has been welcomed by Cork Business Association.

Lawrence Owens, chief executive of the CBA, said the move is proactive and should see a host of new businesses open in the areas.

"The CBA warmly welcomes the rates incentive scheme as proposed. We have been calling for this type of initiative for many years," he said.

"We are confident that this proposal has the potential to see many currently vacant premises re-opening as viable businesses."

Mr Owens said that the move is particularly welcome as the streets in question have struggled in recent years.

North Main Street, in particular, has seen the departure of a number of high-profile tenants, including Dunnes Stores and Roman House.

Theis has resulted in the remaining businesses, many of whom are multi-generational family-run enterprises, to call on the city to intervene to revitalise the street.

Mr Owens said, "This is a proactive move by Cork City Council and it will provide a valuable assist in the regeneration of these historic parts of our city."

The scheme also aims to diversify the offerings on the street, with restrictions on the types of businesses which are eligible to apply.

On North Main Street, non-discount retail stores, vintage clothing shops, food halls and arts & craft outlets can benefit from the scheme, while there are openings for artisan food, evening restaurants, souvenir shops and an art gallery on Shandon Street.

Similarly, artisan food businesses, specialist retailers and arts & crafts enterprises can benefit on Barrack Street.

City councillor Mick Finn welcomed the move by the local authority. He said that new businesses and a clamp-down on dereliction can revitalise these streets.

"Anything that helps get owners of derelict properties to get them back into active use, I would welcome," he said.

"If people continue to sit on them and allow them to deteriorate, extra powers under the Derelict Sites Act need to be created. Such a scheme could benefit areas like Barrack Street, South Main Street, North Main Street, Shandon Street and Blackpool if it was used properly."

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