Penneys defends Cork redevelopment plan amid loss of business units

Retail giant Penneys has moved to allay concerns that its plans to redevelop an entire block of Cork City into a single unit will have over the diversity of outlets available in the city’s main shopping area. .

Penneys is applying for a building permit from Cork City Council to increase the retail space of its store on St Patrick’s Street by nearly 50%, adding 17,000 square feet to its existing 37,000 square feet.

If approved, the development would see the expanded outlet encompass a substantial part of the city’s main street, stretching from Robert Street to Cook St and from St Patrick St to Oliver Plunkett St, taking all of the block in between.

In October, Cork City Council planners wrote to Penneys expressing concerns about the development and the impact it would have on the variety of premises, noting that the city’s development plan provides for a mix of retail, restaurants, pubs and entertainment.

“The proposed development involves the loss of three business units and two former catering premises. Taking into account the degree of internal demolition sought, this loss could be definitive and would reduce the diversity of the mix of uses proposed in the city center. the letter indicates. “This loss must be weighed against the benefits of the proposed expansion of the existing anchor retail store.”

Penneys has been asked to deal with the loss of five separate units and any impact that may have on the diversity of stores available in the city center.

However, in response to city council in recent weeks, Penneys said its expansion in Cork would help reduce the number of vacant premises in the city center.

“It’s important to recognize that the retail landscape is changing, with online shopping playing a major role and growing in popularity. This trend can negatively impact the fabric of our towns and cities, as small retail stores may not be able to compete, ”Penneys wrote.

“Penneys offers a unique shopping experience in that it offers a diverse range of products for all age groups at competitive prices. It only offers in-store shopping and therefore provides the optimal platform to attract customers to the city center and compete with shopping online and outside of malls. “

Penneys also provided a report from Lisneys realtors who conduct a regular tally of unoccupied and vacant premises in the city center. In their report, they said there was a sufficient number of retail elements to meet any shopping and dining demand and that the redevelopment of the Penneys store would not have a significant impact on the diversity of retailers. units in the city center.

Penneys partnered with the O’Flynn Construction group for the redevelopment project. If the project is approved for planning, construction will be carried out in a way that allows the store to remain open.

The announcement of the redevelopment project was seen as positive for Cork’s retail sector, which has suffered significantly from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The city’s main shopping street has seen the departure of stores like Debenhams, Laura Ashley, Oasis, Eason, Jack and Jones, Argos, Warehouse and Quills.

A planning decision on the Penneys redevelopment plan is expected in January.

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