County councillors to get more say in what businesses open in town centres

“Main streets are suffering from a proliferation of bookmakers and fast-food outlets, which suck the life out of town centres,” one councillor said.
County councillors to get more say in what businesses open in town centres

Cork County Council has passed a motion to increase the powers of councillors and municipal district staff to decide on the type of businesses opening on main streets in their areas. Pic; Larry Cummins

CORK County Council has passed a motion to increase the powers of councillors and municipal district staff to decide on the type of businesses opening on main streets in their areas.

The motion was brought by Fine Gael councillor Jack White, who said he was seeking to develop a balance of business and support smaller local businesses.

“Main streets are suffering from a proliferation of bookmakers and fast-food outlets, which suck the life out of town centres,” Mr White said.

“While it is important that some of these are present to provide employment, it is also vitally important that the commercial eco-system is protected in towns.

“Councillors and [municipal district] staff need to have an increased say in the type of businesses that are coming in as we have the relationship with businesspeople and residents on the ground. We need increased powers,” he added.

Fine Gael councillor John Paul O’Shea, who seconded the motion, said the premises that are available in town centres for commercial use needed to be looked at.

Fianna Fáil councillor Seamus McGrath said a “healthy retail mix” was required in town centres.

“We don’t want to be preventing businesses but we want to try and encourage a healthy retail mix in a town,” Mr McGrath said.

Cork County Council senior executive planner Padraig Moore said that the County Development Plan 2022-2028 supported retaining diversity in town centres and also recognised the important role of independent retailers.

“In cases where there is a proliferation of uses which threaten the vibrancy of the town centre, they will be discouraged,” Mr Moore said.

“The local authority, through the legislative framework of the Planning and Development Act, has the powers to restrict certain types of uses in town centres where it is considered a particular issue is arising.

“Elected members can also make submissions to individual planning applications where they arise.”

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