A larger than expected gathering, representative of all aspects of Thurles community life, turned out to the meeting, called by Thurles Chamber for this evening in Hayes Hotel.
Thurles Chamber, had called the meeting with a view to deciding what direction their submission should take, with reference to Tipperary’s Planning Section decision on the development of a further proposed shopping centre at the old Erin Foods site at Slievenamon Road, Thurles.
Very quickly it became evident, from the mood of those gathered, that such a proposed venture was not welcome in the town in the foreseeable future.
Speakers from the floor, referred mainly to advice, commissioned and contained, in the Thurles and Environs Development Plan 2009-2015, regarding future Commercial and Retail Development.
While it was pointed out that the location of new retail or indeed other proposed development, is crucial to the long-term vitality of Thurles, proposals for any new retail development, that is located outside the central town area, must be assessed against the following criteria:-
(a) Does it undermine or have an adverse impact on the quality of the town centre?
(b) Does it diminish the future range of shops in the town centre?
(c) Does it link effectively with the commercial life currently existing in Thurles town centre?
It was unanimously agreed that any such decision must also take into account all potential social costs and benefits, not only the most obvious ones, which are easily measured in economic terms, but also be careful not to impose disproportional costs elsewhere, when pursuing a single objective of this magnitude. The cannibalization of existing jobs from within the town centre, was considered to be a cause for major concern in this instance.
As stated, the location of new retail development is crucial to the long term vitality, life and viability of Thurles Town and the preferred location for new retail development, where practicable and viable, should always be in the town centre.
The meeting called on the Tipperary Planning Authority, in future, to only permit development in the outer areas of Thurles, that would enhance rather than detract from the town centre, as indeed recommended in the Thurles Environmental Development Plan for 2009-2015.
Speakers strongly voiced the opinion that town centre development should be the future policy of those involved with local planning, to strengthen the town centre function of Thurles as a viable commercial, cultural and living centre, in accordance with the County Retail Strategy 2003 and the Retail Planning guidelines for Planning Authorities and the Town Centre Strategy.
A submission to this effect will now be forwarded to the Planning Authority, by Thurles Chamber in the next few days, strongly conveying the wishes of those assembled, at this evenings meeting.