THE recent granting of planning approval for what will be West Cork’s first Tesco superstore has met with a mixed reaction from local businesses, many of who fear the development will damage existing locally owned enterprises.
The €10 million, 25,000 sq ft mega-store has been approved for a seven-acre site at Newtown on the Glengarriff side of Bantry (next to Rowa) and developers Richard Coffey and Donal Hunt say the new Tesco will create up to 150 full and part-time jobs when it opens in December, injecting €3m in wages into the local economy each year.
The development has been greeted with apprehension by the town’s business association however who fear that the businesses in town centre will suffer as a result.
Chairman of the Bantry Business Association (BBA), Gearoid O’Leary, told West Cork Times that the Tesco development could do more harm than good for the people and for the business community within Bantry town.
“Bantry needs to develop and grow. We have long looked for more retail development and more jobs within our town but we have major concerns about this plan to locate such a superstore outside the town centre.
“The location chosen, we feel will have an impact on the viability and vitality of the town centre,” Mr O’Leary said.
Despite the planning permission some issues also need to be resolved regarding the price agreed for the site where the store is due to be built.
That deal was struck during the height of the property bubble but sources close to the development have told West Cork Times that the developers are very confident that construction will begin in the first quarter of this year.
Rumours have also been circulating locally of a possible High Court objection to the decision by parties unnamed but at the the time of going to press no such objection had been lodged.
While welcoming the creation of new jobs Mr O’Leary said that other more established employment within the town centre may be put at risk.
“Providing 50 jobs in this out of town retail development could cost up to 75 jobs within the town centre thus having a huge impact negatively on our community.
“Such negative impact has been clearly experienced both in Ireland and the UK and US.
“Bantry Business Association would fully support a supermarket as proposed by the developers within the town centre,” Mr O’Leary continued.
Plans for such a supermarket are in fact underway with news that a major discount retailer is also set to open in the town which could see Bantry become something of a shopping mecca for the western part of West Cork.
Mr O’Leary said, “A site close to the town library has been earmarked for development and a well-known low-cost retailer will be setting up their business in the heart of the town over the coming months.
“As well as that, another site within the town has been proposed for development by an already established business.
“This is the kind of growth Bantry needs. We want to be able to give our customers choice and value for money with the convenience of shopping in the heart of our town so that not just one business benefits and the whole community thrives”.