The German supermarket chain Aldi has been granted planning permission on appeal to extend its Wexford store at Newtown Road despite objections from the retail grocers' association RGDATA.
The discount foodstore company had earlier applied to the planning department of the local authority to extend the supermarket and off-licence area from 1,453 square metres to 1,778 square metres and install a new canopy, entrance lobby and signage at Carricklawn.
Wexford County Council granted permission but the Retail Grocery Dairy and Allied Trades Association appealed that decision to An Bord Pleanala which has now ruled that the development is in line with national guidelines on retailing and with the retail strategy of the local authority's Wexford Town Plan.
The appeals board decided that the extension 'would not seriously injure the amenity of the area, would not have an adverse impact on the viability of the town centre and would be acceptable in terms of pedestrian and traffic safety'.
Aldi Stores (Ireland) Limited provided Wexford County Council on request with a Retail Impact Assessment showing sufficient capacity within the Wexford town catchment area to accommodate the additional floor space without having an adverse effect on the town centre.
The report concluded that there is more than adequate capacity, with a 'significant shortfall' in convenience retail floorspace in Wexford.
RGDATA claimed that the development would be contrary to retail and town centre objectives in the Wexford Town Plan as it is outside the designated retail core.
It contended that the planning authority failed to assess RGDATA's concerns about the validity of the planning application and the need for a traffic assessment.
The organisation said convenience retailing is 'only open for consideration' on the site, comparison retailing is not permitted and the zoning objective is to provide commercial and office space.
It claimed that the development would exceed reasonable local shopping needs and could negatively impact the vitality and viability of the town centre.
RGDATA claimed the proposed 33% increase in floor space would result in the supermarket being a 'draw-away' from the town centre.
In its response, Aldi said the development doesn't contravene land zoning as it is a modest extension to an existing store.
In the capacity assessment supplied by the store, the turn-over in 2021 of the proposed additional 325 square metre extension is estimated to be €2.6 million, which is just over 1% of the €241 million total available convenience expenditure in 2021.
It said the development would provide an improved service to customers in the area and added that a traffic assessment is not required for a small store extension.
An Bord Pleanála ruled that the proposed extension is in accordance with proper planning and sustainable development in the area and granted planning permission with revised conditions.