Limerick retailers object to €100m shopping centre

A group of retailers has lodged a formal objection with Limerick City & County Council against a developer's plan to construct a €100m shopping centre which would create and estimated 2,000 jobs on the outskirts of Limerick City.

The Limerick City Business Association (LCBA) said it received donations from more than 60 city centre businesses to support the objection to the Horizon Mall development.

Belfast born Indian developer Suneil Sharma, head of Varsity Developments is behind the development.

According to Mr Sharma, Marks & Spencer has agreed to take 100,000 square feet in the shopping complex, making it their largest store outside Dublin.

The development will comprise 29,000 square metres of retail, 28,00 square metres of food, 3,400 square metres of leisure, 1,575 car parking spaces, 12 restaurants, a leisure centre and a crèche.

It is proposed that 500 construction jobs and 1,500 retail positions would be created if the controversial project was approved.

The newly elected Chair of the local authority, Councillor Kevin Sheehan, has publicly declared his support for the development, however the decision rests with the council's planning department.

However, business owners in the city centre fear the new development will wipe them out.

Reacting to the fears within the business community, LCBA contracted a planning consultancy firm to prepare a comprehensive objection to build a massive shopping mall on the Dublin Road, close to the Parkway Shopping Centre.

"All the main retailers in the city have signed up to this," explained Chairperson, LCBA, Helen O'Donnell.

"It's a very comprehensive document being prepared on behalf of those signatories. It's very practical in terms of looking at the city centre, looking at the viability of what's happening within the city, and then looking at the outskirts.

"We have put a lot of energy into it."

Mr Sharma visited Limerick earlier this week to survey the proposed site, formerly known as the Parkway Valley project, ahead of lodging a formal planning application.

In 2011, when Mr Sharma sought to extend permission for the shopping centre development, granted in 2006, Limerick County Hall sought legal advice before it concluded it had no alternative but to grant an extension.

Mr Sharma is seeking to amend the planning permission he currently holds on the site to reduce the size and scale of the development.

It is proposed there will be two anchor tenants including Marks and Spencer’s largest store outside Dublin, plus 37 smaller outlets.

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