The Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan has indicated in the Dáil today that he plans to increase the floor space cap for retailers in the Greater Dublin Areas and other city regions nationwide. Minister Hogan was answering questions from Fianna Fáil Environment Spokesperson Niall Collins, who expressed his strong opposition to any increase in the retail floor space cap.
Deputy Collins said: “The Government has signalled that an increase of 2% in the higher VAT rate will be part of next week’s budget and the retailers have reacted quite angrily to that. They also reacted angrily to the kite that was flown by the Minister for Social Protection regarding sick leave pay. Furthermore, they are concerned about the proposed reduction in the amount of the redundancy rebate. All these pressures are feeding into business. There is also the existing pressure of commercial rates, which we debated in the House last week. During that debate we highlighted the actions that must be taken in terms of recognising the changed economic circumstances and people’s ability to pay.
“Small business, retailers and family businesses throughout the country have an issue with increasing the cap on retail space for the bigger multiples. The EU-IMF deal did not specifically provide for an increase in that cap, and the Minister must acknowledge that. Increasing the cap would allow for more space, which would squeeze the smaller retailers in town centres. It is a core function of proper and good planning that we develop from the core of towns and villages outward, rather than enhancing the already developed out-of-town shopping outlets.”
In response to Deputy Collins, Minister Hogan said: “The Government made the decision to release for public consultation the proposed changes in that submission to modify the grocery retail floor space cap in Dublin and the major cities but not to change the existing floor space levels for petrol station outlets, retail business parks or neighbourhood and district centres in provincial towns.”
Speaking afterwards, Deputy Collins commented, “An increase in the retail space cap in greater city areas will certainly have a social and economic impact on the towns and villages within those areas. Allowing larger super stores to locate within city regions will pull people away from smaller retailers and away from town and village centres. There is no doubt that this policy, like so many others the Government is pursuing, will result in job losses.”