Introduction to Retail Planning
RGDATA is the only retail trade association that actively promotes and supports retail development that is pro-consumer, good for the environment and sustainable. RGDATA’s planning section monitors retail planning activity; makes observations and objections to unsustainable and out of town retail developments; makes submissions on planning policy and assists members with planning issues.
RGDATA worked hard to influence the introduction of the Government's Retail Planning Guidelines and we continue to actively represent members by ensuring the Guidelines are upheld. We support vibrant towns and villages and shops that people can walk to. We strongly oppose unsustainable out of town retail development.
RGDATA has been to the fore in advocating a planned approach to retail development in Ireland.
RGDATA opposes unsustainable out of town development and our position is backed up by considerable international research. We have recently commissioned several reports on retail planning guidelines, you can read these in our Planning Reports area.
RGDATA Planning Policy
RGDATA is the representative association for independent family grocers in Ireland. It represents supermarkets, convenience stores, forecourt stores and local shops. The independent sector represents over one third of the Irish grocery market and members' shops are located in towns, villages and urban areas.
RGDATA supports sustainable retail development, vibrant town centres, villages and communities and a diversity of shops that people can walk to. RGDATA has been to the fore in advocating a planned approach to retail developments in Ireland based on the principles of sustainable development.
RGDATA strongly supports the Retail Shopping Directive introduced in 1998 and has been a firm advocate of the Retail Planning Guidelines first introduced by the Minister for the Environment and Local Government in 2001 and revised again in 2012.
RGDATA supports sustainable planning and development which supports vibrant local communities and facilitates the maintenance of a strong independent grocery sector. It offers a convenient local retail service, shops that people can walk to, the valuable community benefits that arise from locally owned businesses and is in the best interests of sustainability.
Shopping provision is a key component of town centres and makes a valuable contribution to their vitality and viability. RGDATA believes that, in order to enhance the performance and role of town centres, additional investment in new retail development projects should be within town centres. There should also be investment in environmental improvements, transport infrastructure and town centre management.
RGDATA believes that it is very much in the interests of economic recovery and vibrant local communities that the maintenance of a strong independent grocery sector is facilitated. RGDATA members offer a convenient local retail service, shops that people can walk to and the valuable community benefits that arise from locally owned businesses.
Articles & Reports
Local Shops provide Diversity, Convenience and Added Local Benefits. Prof Kevin Leyden told the RGDATA Members' Summit that his international research proved that communities with local food shops that citizens could walk to were healthier, happier and more socially interactive.
An RGDATA article on the importance of diversity and vibrancy in towns and self sufficiency in surrounding villages.
Far too much out-of-town retail development has already taken place in Northern Ireland. It has reached superstore saturation point. Current trends and planning permissions will lead to the eventual development of food deserts in Northern Ireland. The Department must, with great urgency, publish a final and robust PPS5. Until then there should be a moratorium on all out of town developments.
Retail Planning GuidelinesThe Government's Retail Planning Guidelines were published on May 1 2012
- The guidelines have statutory force and are designed to ensure that the planning system plays a key role in ensuring competitiveness in the retail sector advancing choice for the consumer while promoting and supporting the vitality and viability of city and town centres and contributing to a high standard of urban design and encouraging a greater use of sustainable transport.
- The guidelines outline a new requirement for joined up approaches to planning for the retail sector across local authority boundaries
- They contain a general presumption against out of town retail centres
- And hold clarifications of certain retail planning definitions to reflect various changes in the retail sector.
- The guidelines place a special emphasis on a requirement for the preparation of joint or multi-planning authority retail strategies, by relevant planning authorities in 6 gateway cities and towns that straddle local authority boundaries (Dublin, Cork, Galway, Waterford, Limerick/Shannon and Midlands).
Retail Floorspace CapsWhile the convenience retail floorspace caps remain as published in the draft Guidelines in November 2011 in light of the general acceptance as to the need for caps, the consultation draft was revised to more clearly state that the scale of retail provision across cities and towns must align with the settlement policies of relevant development plans and local plans, including the provision of district centres and not the other way around.
The convenience retail floorspace caps of the Retail Planning Guidelines (April 2012) are as follows:
• 4,000 m2 in the four Dublin local authority areas (i.e. Dublin City, Fingal, South Dublin and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Councils);
• 3,500 m2 in the four other main cities of Cork, Limerick/Shannon, Galway and Waterford; and
• 3,000 m2 in the remainder of the State (i.e. those areas outside of the four Dublin local authority areas, and the cities of Cork, Limerick/Shannon, Galway and Waterford.
These floorspace caps apply to new retail stores or extensions to existing stores which will result in an aggregate increase in the net retail floorspace of the convenience element of such retail stores. In this regard, while some stores may retail convenience goods only, in other cases, stores may retail convenience and comparison goods. In these mixed comparison/convenience retailing stores, there is therefore no cap on the amount of non-grocery or comparison space delineated for the relevant store, for example on the planning application drawings.
It should be noted that all of the above floorspace caps refer to net and not gross retail floorspace as defined in the guidelines.
History of the Retail Planning Guidlelines
Review of the Retail Planning Guidelines 2010 - 2012
The publication of the revised Retail Planning Guidelines on May 1 2012 marked a significant victory for RGDATA. Following an intensive campaign RGDATA ensured that rules relating to store size, the focus on vibrant towns and villages, caps on store sizes and the ban on out of town development were retained and strengthened in the Revised Guidelines.
Background to the Review
Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Ciarán Cuffe, TD, announced (28/6/10) a "focussed review of the Retail Planning Guidelines" The press release stated that:.
"Since the Guidelines were introduced in 2001, Ireland has undergone considerable economic and demographic change, particularly in settlement patterns. We are now in a period of economic downturn, with consequential reduced retail demand. However, forward planning must be realistic and responsive to all emerging social and economic scenarios. The review is, therefore, timely."
Click here to read RGDATA's reponse to the issues paper Retail Planning Guidelines Review
Background: Local Government (Planning and Development) General Policy Directive (Shopping) 1998.
The Local Government (Planning and Development) General Policy Directive (Shopping) 1998 introduced a floorspace cap on supermarkets. The background to the introduction of the 1998 Directive was that international experience showed that large out of town "superstores" or "hypermarkets" were causing major problems in terms of damaging existing town centres commercially and damaging the economic infrastructure of smaller towns within a 50 km radius of such stores. Ireland had not experienced such problems because the general level of economic activity at the time would not have supported such large-scale retail stores. However, by 1998, it was becoming evident that this situation was changing, with plans emerging for a number of hyperstores in the Greater Dublin Area and in the Cork area.
In this regard, at the time of the making of the 1998 Directive, the Minister announced the commissioning of a study to examine the relevant issues in an Irish context with a view to preparing comprehensive planning guidelines on retail development.
The study and the draft Retail Planning Guidelines prepared by the consultants Roger Tym & Partners generally confirmed the appropriateness of the Minister's decision to set the cap on supermarket floorspace at 3,000 square metres net. However, in the case of Dublin, the consultants were of the view that the cap was too restrictive and they recommended that the cap be increased to 3,500 square metres in the Greater Dublin Area.
At the time of the publication of the draft Guidelines for public consultation in April 1999, the Minister announced that a further study on the economic impact of the implementation of the draft Guidelines would be commissioned. This further study by Goodbody Economic Consultants showed that economies of scale in the food retail sector are exhausted when a store reaches a size of 2,000 square metres. In other words, the implementation of the cap would not directly impact on retailing costs.