The Retail Planning Guidelines – Under Review

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    • #710157
      reddy
      Participant
    • #803432
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Review the Competition Authority – not the Retail Planning Guidelines

      It is the Competition Authority that needs to be reviewed – not these planning guidelines. The C.A.s successful lobbying for the removal of below-cost selling ban has done nothing to reduce costs of groceries – but has put small retailers out of business.

      Was the removal of the below-cost bar not going to fix all over-pricing, according to the C.A.?

      Why are they not properly investigating possible price-fixing by the larger multi-nationals – who I note pay very little tax in this jurisdiction?

      With retail floor area having increased by 400% in 5 years, the C.A.’s current proposal is utter madness.

      The C.A. seems to have no idea how to remedy what is required – but instead by offering false panaceas, may yet kill off town centres – while putting irish tax-paying businesses to the wall. They are meddling in an area where they are not wanted – whose interest is being served?

      Instead why doesn’t the C.A. look at promoting french-style planning guidelines, which by allowing small bakeries etc to exist, independently promotes real competition?

      The current proposal smacks of an out-of-control quango which is bankrupt of positive ideas – and so is throwing out dangerous ideas. It is an insult that this body is funded by the tax-payer.

      I fully agree with former GAA President Séan Kelly when he says the report should be binned – and while we’re at it, the C.A. could be ditched also?

      Given the current cutbacks of unproductive quangos, it would be most timely that such a body be disbanded.

    • #803433
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      @reddy wrote:

      So with the retail planning guidelines coming under review what do people think?

      The RPGs are a bit of a nonsense, and the current review doesn’t fill me with confidence. (What’s next? Consulting the register of sex offenders to inform the drafting of child protection legislation?)

      What’s really required is a properly resourced – money and power – Regional Aurhority structure, to overcome the localism of all local authorities in this matter. At the moment, they’re all thinking selfishly (hey, they’re human…), which is working to the detriment of retail planning generally.

      Too many centres in the hierarchy, too much a “there’s one for everyone in the audience” quality generally.

      Regional planning is not just the sum of all local planning. Somebody needs to realise this soon, and to plan accordingly.

    • #803434
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Hutton, where are these “small retailers” that have been put out of business by the repeal of the Groceries Order? The idealised “small family retailers” were replaced years ago in our cities, towns and villages by Spar, Centra, Londis, etc. who now dominate RGDATA the chief champion of the Groceries Order. This was simply an emotional smokescreen created by RGDATA.

      Every French town (and reasonably sized village) has out-of-town supermarkets and warehouse retailing. These supermarkets are very popular and do brisk business. It isn’t French planning which means there are still successful small butchers, bakeries and other small retailers in the towns and villages; it’s the fact that these retailers offer products which Intermarche or LIDL can’t and for which there is consumer demand.

      There was never an equivalent in Ireland as far as I can remember. We had small shops selling slightly stale sliced pans, newspapers and fags. Stale sliced pans, fags and toilet rolls are still available in our villages and towns except now the sign says Spar or whatever instead of Murphy’s. No great loss.

      You cannot create a demand for buying fresh baking, locally grown veg and specialist small butchers by planning. It’s the same reason why mid/low price restaurants in France are far superior than what we’ve got here; the consumer (French) public demand such quality and value when they dine out. In the same way, they enjoy fresh baking and pastries, quality butchering, etc. Many Irish are happy to buy microwave meals, frozen pizzas, etc. Planners and planning cannot change this. It will change (and I believe it is changing already) as we become more mature and informed about food.

      There are limits to what planning can achieve. 🙂

    • #803435
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      @hutton wrote:

      – but has put small retailers out of business. .

      Examples please

      @hutton wrote:

      – Was the removal of the below-cost bar not going to fix all over-pricing, according to the C.A.?.

      – Perhaps you haven’t noticed but there’s a price war on between the multiples at the moment[/QUOTE]

      @hutton wrote:


      The C.A. seems to have no idea how to remedy what is required

      Their job is to advise on how to improve competition, not how to take a holistic approach to retail.

      @hutton wrote:


      while we’re at it, the C.A. could be ditched also?

      No, can the ex-girlfriend’s quango instead

    • #803436
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      @jdivision wrote:

      Examples please

      – Perhaps you haven’t noticed but there’s a price war on between the multiples at the moment

      Their job is to advise on how to improve competition, not how to take a holistic approach to retail.

      No, can the ex-girlfriend’s quango instead

      jdivision – how many small independent (ie not Londis/ Centra) have you seen open in recent years? If their job is to promote competition, why not promote more providers, rather than less? Price war between the multiples would have happened anyway, bar or no bar on below cost selling… On the last point, you have me stumped :confused:

      @jimg wrote:

      Hutton, where are these “small retailers” that have been put out of business by the repeal of the Groceries Order? The idealised “small family retailers” were replaced years ago in our cities, towns and villages by Spar, Centra, Londis, etc. who now dominate RGDATA the chief champion of the Groceries Order. This was simply an emotional smokescreen created by RGDATA.

      Every French town (and reasonably sized village) has out-of-town supermarkets and warehouse retailing. These supermarkets are very popular and do brisk business. It isn’t French planning which means there are still successful small butchers, bakeries and other small retailers in the towns and villages; it’s the fact that these retailers offer products which Intermarche or LIDL can’t and for which there is consumer demand.

      There was never an equivalent in Ireland as far as I can remember. We had small shops selling slightly stale sliced pans, newspapers and fags. Stale sliced pans, fags and toilet rolls are still available in our villages and towns except now the sign says Spar or whatever instead of Murphy’s. No great loss.

      You cannot create a demand for buying fresh baking, locally grown veg and specialist small butchers by planning. It’s the same reason why mid/low price restaurants in France are far superior than what we’ve got here; the consumer (French) public demand such quality and value when they dine out. In the same way, they enjoy fresh baking and pastries, quality butchering, etc. Many Irish are happy to buy microwave meals, frozen pizzas, etc. Planners and planning cannot change this. It will change (and I believe it is changing already) as we become more mature and informed about food.

      There are limits to what planning can achieve. 🙂

      In fairness jimg, while I take your points on board that French retail culture is better developed, at the same time, if we are to adopt what the CA is proposing it will exacerbate the negative trends of shopping here.

      Out of town retail is bad for urban areas, car dependent, and bad for Irish retailers. It is totally unsustainable and should be avoided – and the CA have done a great disservice in effectively recommending it!

    • #803437
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      @hutton wrote:

      In fairness jimg, while I take your points on board that French retail culture is better developed, at the same time, if we are to adopt what the CA is proposing it will exacerbate the negative trends of shopping here.

      Out of town retail is bad for urban areas, car dependent, and bad for Irish retailers. It is totally unsustainable and should be avoided – and the CA have done a great disservice in effectively recommending it!

      Hi Hutton. On an abstract level, I agree with your sentiments. However I’ve thought and wondered about this before and come to different conclusions. Excuse the length of this post but I think it’s an important issue and my conclusions run counter to conventional wisdom in this regard.

      I’ll start with the assumption that restricting or banning ALL large retail operations (i.e. supermarkets, warehouse furniture stores, electrical outlets, etc.) is simply not an option; the right of access to affordable food, clothing and other goods is simply too important for human welfare. No country in the world bans such shops outright. The business model which supports such affordability requires certain volumes.

      Thus we are faced with the question of where we want such facilities to be sited. For the sake of my argument, I will simplify this question to two choices: we can put them in the centre of our towns and cities or site the outside (on the fringes). Chosing the latter immediately offends my love of urbanism and urban life. However, things are not that simple. The very nature of large supermarkets (and similar retail) means that most of their users/customers will require a car simply because generally the volume of goods involved makes bringing your purchases home without a car practically impossible.

      Siting a large supermarkets in the centre of a town or city does not remove this dependency. Because of this such a policy has very negative effects as it draws more cars and traffic into the centre. You see this effect with the queue of cars snaking through Dublin leading to the car parks associated with Jervis or Stephen’s Green SCs. You also see the negative effects in terms of the destruction of the traditional retail grain in our cities and towns. An example is the execrable proposed “Opera Centre” in Limerick which is being championed as being required to counter the pull of the city fringe retail parks but involves: closing many small independent outlets, massive destruction of historic stock and will result in a huge increase in traffic in the city which will further degrade whatever attraction the city centre has as a retail environment.

      Thus paradoxically, the attempt to protect the traditon of citing all retail in our city and town centres by limiting out-of-town car accessable development actually causes huge damage in my opinion. Dublin is large enough to cope with a few of these but many of our smaller towns and cities have been severely compromised by this misguided attempt to “protect” the traditional town/city centres. The effects of such a policy are starkly apparant in the layout and urban fabric of many provincial UK cities.

      Now while the alternative seems unattractive – i.e. siting this type of retail on the fringes of our towns and cities with good connections to the road network – it simply does not have to imply a move to US-style donut cities. My experience of rural France suggests otherwise; the traditional town core is largely preserved for traditional and specialist small retail while the mega-supermarkets are build outside. Thus the integrity and attractiveness of town centre is not compromised while people still have access to good value commodity/bulk shopping facilities. The small traditional specialist cheese retailer, for example, can make a living in the town centre because the urban environment is more attractive and also because they are not competing with a Dunnes cheese counter.

      A counter argument might be that we should insist that these types of retail provide delivery services, etc. but I remain skeptical until I were to see an example of such a policy working in any country in the world. I would also question the value of this approach; you are effectively moving container loads of goods into city centre warehouse-like shops, allowing people to peruse them to make their purchase choices before moving them in bulk out of the centre for delivery. Again this either makes the environment unpleasant (or city centres were not designed to allow the efficient bulk movement of goods) or provides a justification for the destruction of the traditional fabric by the traffic engineers.

      Thus I think we have to be a bit more subtle with our planning policies in this area. It’s not a question of out-of-town versus town centre retail development. Having obvserved the effects of different policies in this regard (I don’t think you intended it but France actually provides a great example), I am strongly in favour of siting large bulk-retail operations outside of town centres. However, I am NOT in favour of out-of-town “malls” which are composed of a large collection of small retail outlets; these properly belong in our town centres as they are not at all car dependent.

    • #803438
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      @hutton wrote:

      jdivision – how many small independent (ie not Londis/ Centra) have you seen open in recent years? If their job is to promote competition, why not promote more providers, rather than less? Price war between the multiples would have happened anyway, bar or no bar on below cost selling…

      They are technically independent, they’re owned individually and centrally applied. What I’m saying is you’re mourning something that no longer exists, the crappy corner shop we had here is dead and has been for years replaced by crap shops supplied by a central marketing and distribution vehicle.
      The competition authority is trying to promote more providers, but on a larger scale. The price war at the moment wouldn’t have happend with that ban tbh, certainly not on the scale we have now and still consumers head north because they’re unhappy with the retail cap that plays a key part in some British retailers not entering the market here

      @hutton wrote:

      On the last point, you have me stumped :confused:

      National Consumer Agency

      Celia Larkin, Businesswoman
      Celia is the proprietor of Beauty at Blue Door, a successful beauty salon business. She is also currently on the board of the voluntary housing agency Cara.

    • #803439
      admin
      Keymaster

      @jdivision wrote:

      price war at the moment wouldn’t have happend without that ban tbh, certainly not on the scale we have now and still consumers head north because they’re unhappy with the retail cap that plays a key part in some British retailers not entering the market here

      Again the absence of regional government raises its head; the reliance on national policy which may be altered at a whim or for non-planning considerations has come up short and has the potential to significantly damagfe diversity in retail offer.

      There is an excuse for maybe 4 large retail boxes in Ireland maybe 2 Ikeas one in Dublin the other in Belfast and a Costco in Dublin and maybe Cork or Belfast although even without the ban they have chosen not to consider this location.

      Whilst I agree that the traditional corner shop has been eclipsed by the more efficient supply chains of Musgraves, Spar and Tesco there is little comparison with large scale sheds in a sea of parking and a cheesy brick facade. Whilst some contributors will disagree with me paying Tesco, Musgraves and Spar a compliment but they have supported main streets up and down the country over the past decade by providing a basic retail offer under the worst signage going.

      At a time where Main Street is under pressure the last thing that needs to be done is allow discount retailers to design and build huge floor plates at a notional rental cost of say c€5-7 per square foot per year as this may directly undermine those occupiers that have supported Main Street who are tied into paying a quantum of those rental levals and who have in the case of supermarkets added massive footfall to surrounding streets and through this spin off vibrancy fostered the development of ancillary retail such as cafes etc.

      Schemes such as The Pavillions or Dundrum are the way forward which integrate with existing urban space and do not destroy road access to and around the main cities. The only thing I’ve ever bought at Ikea is a hotdog and that is exactly the danger of permitting excessive floor plates; it moves way beyond bulky goods and kills employment in places where it is environmentally sustainable to provide it.

    • #803440
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      I largely agree with you PVC but again that’s not the Competition Authority’s job. Government is there to legislate based on its recommendations and additional factors. I think it was disgraceful that Costco wasn’t allowed in last time around. The Govt basically introduced so many caveats that only Ikea could open and only in Ballymun which isn’t fair to other retailers.

    • #803441
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Schemes such as The Pavillions or Dundrum are the way forward which integrate with existing urban space and do not destroy road access to and around the main cities.

      Dundrum has possibly the best road connections of any south Dublin village. Thus the Dundrum bypass (and the other bordering roads) are used for traffic access to two edges of the centre while the other two face “into” a traditional village core. This topography is unusual to say the least and so the “model” as such cannot be replicated in other south Dublin villages never mind villages, towns and cities which have not been swallowed up by conurbation.

      In any case, I really don’t see how you could claim that the privatised fake-urbanism of Dundrum is the way forward at all. The “experience” is pretty much 100% that of a US mall. What was left of the retail in the rest of the village has suffered since it opened; the village pubs and shops remain run down while the likes of that new “pub” which was built into the shopping centre and the “foodhall” do a roaring trade.

      As far as I’m concerned bulk retail belongs outside of our villages, towns and cities while malls of smaller retail units if needed at all only belong in our towns and cities IF they integrate with the PUBLIC urban fabric; i.e. they give something “back” in terms of streetscape.

      I can’t even think of success stories when it comes to siting bulk-retail in our city/town centres: what pops into my head from recent experience is the Dunnes in Killkenny (by the river) and the Tescos and Dunnes in Limerick (Sarsfield St and Liddy St.).

      The successful urban grocery operations are the types of shops which DO NOT DO BULK; i.e. the vast majority of customers walk out with a single bag or less.

      The idea that restricting out-of-town bulk retail will improve the village and urban environment simply does not stand up. I’ve given an example of French towns and villages but I am also reminded of staying near Sienna less than a year ago. I did my bulk grocery shopping (impossible to carry that much wine and prosecco without a car :D) in a large out-of-town centre as did lots of Italians. Within the medieval walls of Sienna, small specialist retail thrives. No one could claim that the existance of large car-accessible bulk-retail operationson its fringes has damaged the almost perfect urban environment of Sienna; in fact any attempt to integrate bulk-retail into the city would could only have resulted in a travesty as it has in the tiny bit of mediveal urban fabric we have like in places like Killkenny.

      The problem in this country is that we only look to the UK and the US and then draw conclusions which are not only incorrect but result in causing the sort of damage to our villages, towns and cities which we are trying to avoid. France and Italy, two European countries with widely admired, vibrant and successful urban centres seemingly allow cheaply built out-of-town bulk retail operations. We should follow their model instead of the disastrous UK model which has resulted in their towns and cities being destroyed by an unnatural attempt to site bulk retail in their centres.

      The paradox is that the champions of blindly following the UK model of increased restrictions are generally well-meaning while its the philistines who argue for allowing out-of-town development. 😉 Bulk-retail is actually semi-industrial and belongs in environments designed for supporting small industrial enterprises not on our main streets.

    • #803442
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      jimq: I think you’re developing an interesting lin of argument, although not one I’m instantly sympathetic to. By ‘bulk goods’ do you include foodstuffs, or just white- and browngoods? You can justify ‘bulk’ foodstuffs in the centre so long as it’s not the ‘we’re shopping for the nuclear winter’ shopping of seemingly quite ordinary households. We make food-shopping excursions c.5 times a week on average, to a middle-sized supermarket (c. 2000 sq.m.) 3 mins walk away or a similar one c.5 mins drive away. I think the town/city can absorb these. I’m conscious that in Amsterdam (for example) there are small (c.200 sq.m.) ‘supermarkets’ in Nieuwmarkt in the heart of the city; do. in many continental towns..
      It is a fact of life that bulkier non-food items probably do need to be carborne, but that still doesn’t justify the hypermarket vs the retail warehouse. (Although most ‘retail parks’ are just mindnumbingly awful, and their architecture reflects that.) The Ikea-style hypermarket makes you realise that you are in the grip of a capitalist Moloch and anyone who finds that therapeutic needs therapy! Is Tescopolis really the future?

    • #803443
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      John, it is more than likely that I am misusing the term “bulk-retail”. What I mean is the characteristic of when the typical purchase cannot be carried out of the building by a single person; this can include shopping for food (i.e. the weekly large family shop).

      Some goods can be sold by both types of operations. In Dublin, for example you have the likes of Decwell’s hardware on George St which I would have used on occasion. It is fine part of the retail fabric of the street because of it’s scale. However, it’s scale also limits severely the amount and range of stock, the type of stock and particularly how competitive the retailler can be with regard to margins. Yet it has managed to survive for decades; it does not need “protection” by banning Woodies or B&Q from building warehouse type operations in out-of-town locations and it certainly would do nothing for Dublin to have such a bulk-retail operation in the middle of the city centre. Decwell’s – a small independent idiosyncratic hardware shop – has it’s own distinct competitative advantages beside suffering what would be seen as significant limitations for a retailing busines. In any case the customer base for both types of hardware retail does not even overlap in reality.

      Across from Decwell’s on George’s St. is a very successful Dunnes. Again, because this is largely in scale with the retail and urban fabric, it simply does not try to compete with it’s own warehouse-type out-of-town sister stores. It does not really cater for the single family weekly shop and so properly concentrates on it’s advantages and of course it can charge a little extra. So even a single retailer, Dunnes, views the two types of shops as being completely distinct.

      This fundamental difference obviously extends to architecture; there is simply no need for an out-of-town car-accessible warehouse/bulk type retail operation to be housed in an elabourate building – any more than the buildings in industrial parks need be elaborate; they are purely functional. And this is what I noticed in France and Italy – purely functional warehouse type buildings (i.e. very ugly) used for the out-of-town bulk-retail. Within cities, the architecture for retail is very significant and indeed a competative issue. Thus the attractiveness of the shops within typical towns and villages in France and Italy is striking.

      My argument is simply that it is a gross simplification to think that all forms of consumer retail are equal and to do so leads to very damaging planning policies. Decwell’s simply is not in competition with B&Q, nor is a town or village Spar in competition with an off-motorway mega-Dunnes. Banning the latter just means depriving people of what are very valid options and would particularly affect the less affluent. We have no Ikea here in Ireland (the republic of); this has not lead to a flourishing of artisan furniture makers and designer furniture stores in our cities. Instead people travelled to Belfast or even Scotland to buy Ikea or else bought much more expensive and possibly inferiour equivalents if they were into that type of furniture. Conversely when Ikea opens in Ballymun, I very much doubt it will have any effect on the small specialist furniture places in the centre of Dublin that have managed to carve out a niche for themselves.

      So banning such types of retail operations is misguided. The other misguided alternative is to force such types of operations to locate within our cities and towns. It is this that I believe to cause significant long term damage to towns and cities because such insensitive siting destroys the very advantages towns and cities have. To be fair, the city centre of Dublin has largely escaped damage in this regard but many other urban centres have been scarred horribly by having almost entire blocks taken over by what I have been referring to a bulk-retail operations. The damage to historic building stock and heritage is obvious as is the damage in terms of scale to the urban fabric. I noticed this in many towns in the UK. A large Sainsbury’s or whatever located on the “high street” having replaced a swathe of historic stock surrounded by disembodied remnents of the old urban fabric unfortunately now reduced to supporting pound shops, internet call centres, etc. Yet I am under the impression that this state of afairs was actively encouraged by planners in order to protect the traditional role of the high street as the centre of retail. Similar arguments are being advanced here for similar policies but my belief is that they are misguided and in fact damaging to what they intend to protect.

      When arguing for or against a planning policy I would always give more weight to empirical examples of the effects of the policy over a chain of deductive reasoning. Whatever about my analysis of the causes and effects, I would consider that whatever policy, if there is one at all, that has guided retail development in France and Italy as being far superiour to that of the UK. Of course this from a probably unrepresentative sample of my personal experience. But what is being championed here in Ireland “to protect our towns and cities” is the very policy which has been persued in the UK for decades with damaging results in my opinion. We should instead look at how retail in towns and villages in France and Italy (I keep bringing these up because of my personal experience) has flourished despite the proliferation of warehouse style out-of-town retail operations.

      Note that personally I do practically all of my shopping in smaller shops as I live and work fairly centrally and generally walk or cycle (until my bike got kicked to death a few months ago after I left it in town overnight :mad:). The way to protect the type of shopping I enjoy (traipsing around from one small specialist shop to anyother) is to site warehouse style retailing well outside our city and town centres.

    • #803444
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      jimq: thanks again for a very reasoned argument. I still feel there’s a deep flaw in there somewhere. It is very difficult to argue like-for-like between British and Irish cities/towns; the former were largely decimated by ‘comprehensive development’ plans in the 60s and 70s (mea culpa!) and largely redesigned to suit the car – hence the disjointed nature of much of the urban fabric of inner cities (only now starting to be repacked). Here in Glasgow there are many empty ‘traditional’ shops and many out-of-town centres (location largely dictated by developers). So, my heart says you’re wrong, my head in part otherwise.
      If you look at many American towns, shopping patterns seem largely determined by an atomised carborne clientele, shopping in either vast malls or what we would call retail parks, with no obvious logic to shopping pattern/distribution. The town centre can, by comparison, be the empty space in the doughnut. I think where we disagree (?) is that I think you can still have both small specialist shops and (food) ‘supermarkets’ in town centres, but you cannot have carparking to match. So, you need a dense population within ‘walking distance’ to support them. You can have your out-of-town centres for bulk goods and the terminally addicted to bulk shopping, but… The design of these places needs to be half-decent and, paradoxically, they cannot be allowed to sell non-bulk items. I find the argument that these are ‘cheaper’ for the less affluent unpersuasive, since you need to factor in the cost of buying and running a car, amongst other things. Hoewever, it’s not my area of expertise and I am sure we can do virtual retail planning to our hearts’ content!

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