City 4. Economic Development

4         Economic Development

Strategic Aim: To provide a framework for the implementation of the economic strategy and the protection of the environment and heritage, to position the city for sustainable economic growth and employment. 

4.1       Introduction

The economic situation in Ireland is dramatically different now to when the last Development Plan (2008 – 2014) was adopted.  Measured against the standard indicators of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), Gross National Product (GNP), new housing output, tax revenues, and employment levels, economic performance has dropped sharply. Since that time, Ireland has experienced rising unemployment, a banking crisis and a collapse in the property market.

Local authorities play a central role in supporting economic development and enterprise at local level. They do this in a number of ways, including through their capital and current budgets which goes towards funding their core functions.  These include physical planning and development, undertaking socioeconomic research and analysis, the provision of local infrastructure, including transport and water infrastructure, which is vital for enterprises as well as community infrastructure.  They are also a key agent for local delivery of national policy objectives.

At national level there are a number of Government publications which the Councils have had regard to in compiling this Plan and the economic strategy within this chapter, as follows:


Protection of the environment and conservation of biodiversity is crucial for the achievement of the targets under Food Harvest 2020, and the maintenance of a high quality of life and the attractiveness of cities, towns, villages and other locations. It is important for investment decisions by both foreign and domestic business investors.

The Development Plan is a pre-requisite which underpins economic growth and employment.  This Plan contains objectives for the protection and enhancement of water quality and the protection and enhancement of built and natural heritage which are seen as essential in the drive for sustainable economic recovery.

4.2       The Green Economy

A central plank of Ireland’s economic recovery will centre on the development of a green economy that recognises:

  • the opportunities for investment and employment creation in emerging sectors such as renewable energy, energy efficiency and waste and water management, and
  • that this sustainable approach to economic development complements the core strength of  the economy in the use of natural resources in the agriculture, forestry, fisheries, tourism and energy sectors.

Key drivers of the growth of the Green Economy globally include emissions reduction targets, increasing fossil fuel prices, diminishing natural resources, the impact of climate change, environmental legislation and consumer preferences.  Development of the Green Economy provides an opportunity for business to reduce costs, improve their environmental performance and engage in the shift to a new economic paradigm.

Local government is part of the network of assistance to business and industry in delivering this, including through action under the green public procurement action plan, Green Tenders[6] and Our Sustainable Future – A Framework for Sustainable Development for Ireland which is underway and sets out the range of environmental, economic and social measures required to move these agendas forward from vision to reality. 


4.3       Economic Development & Heritage

The identity and economic development of County Kilkenny is intrinsically linked to its heritage.  The county’s character and culture are vital assets that help the county compete as a tourism destination and a location of choice for investment.

Heritage and cultural tourism is growing worldwide and it is estimated that cultural tourism is worth over €2bn annually to the Irish economy and is one of the fastest growing sectors of tourism.  In 2011 tourism was worth a total of €5.7bn to the Irish economy and domestic tourism alone was worth €1.8bn. In annual surveys tourists repeatedly stated that heritage is one of the key attractions for them in choosing to visit Ireland and two in every three visitors go to a heritage site or visitor attraction[7]. In a survey of visitors conducted by Kilkenny Tourism 78% of visitors identified heritage as the main reason they visited Kilkenny[8].

The “Invest Kilkenny” initiative (established by Kilkenny local authorities to promote and facilitate investment from new and existing companies in Kilkenny) recognises and promotes the heritage, cultural life and quality of life of the city and county. In a survey conducted by IPSOS Mori for the Heritage Office in 2007[9], 93% of respondents identified heritage as being either very important or fairly important in improving the quality of life in Kilkenny.

A study commissioned by the Heritage Council[10] outlined the economic rationale for investment in built heritage. It identified that the historic environment is a highly significant contributor to Ireland’s national economy, directly supporting almost 25,000 full time equivalent jobs. When indirect effects are included, it is estimated that the sector supports approximately 40,000 full time equivalent posts in Ireland. In addition, the historic environment is estimated to account for some €1.5 billion to the nation’s Gross Value Added. Therefore, there are significant economic benefits to promoting the value of the built heritage and investing in its protection, management and improvement.

Kilkenny City is marketed as a heritage destination and has a large number of visitor attractions associated with heritage. There is vast potential to build on the contribution of heritage to the economic development of Kilkenny. It is the intention of this Development Plan to actively support the protection, conservation and enhancement of the cultural heritage in Kilkenny to benefit the people of Kilkenny and to target cultural tourism as a major economic driver in the county. This is consistent with the approach to tourism outlined in the economic strategy and with the overall vision for the Development Plan.

Natural heritage is a further significant asset for the county. It provides a variety of services for free which bring many benefits to society and the economy. A high quality, natural environment supports the economy by attracting employers, visitors and inward investment. Research commissioned by the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government estimates that biodiversity and ecosystems contribute €2.6bn to the Irish economy each year.[11]

The value gained from biodiversity is reliant on its ongoing sustainable protection and management. Green infrastructure should be provided as an integral part of sustainable development alongside other infrastructure such as utilities and transport networks if the maximum benefit from natural assets is to be obtained. It is recognises the importance of Green infrastructure “as an asset that can have a particularly high tourism amenity value.”[12] A section on Green Infrastructure is included in Chapter 7.


4.4       Economic Strategy for Kilkenny

At a strategic level within the City and County of Kilkenny, five sectors were identified for specific development initiatives by the Local Authorities.  These were:

·         Third and Fourth Level Education and Research Development

·         Agri-Food

·         Services Development

·         Tourism, Arts and Leisure

·         Life Sciences (including Pharma with specific focus on Belview)


This Economic Strategy was adopted by both local authorities in June 2010.  While some of the projects discussed are located outside the development plan area for the city it is included in the city plan as part of the wider economic strategy for the city and county.


4.4.1       Third and Fourth Level Education and Research Development

Work is complete on the provision of a 3rd/4th level Research and Innovation unit at St. Kieran’s College.  This is a joint venture between Kilkenny Local Authorities, Waterford Institute of Technology (Telecommunications Software & Systems Group or TSSG) and Carlow Institute of Technology.  The centre focuses on next generation internet services and service innovation.  The centre will be assisted by collaboration with the National University of Ireland Maynooth, (N.U.I.M.) and other 3rd level institutions.  The Kilkenny Centre will create a hub for information and communications technology (ICT) expertise and for next generation internet development for companies in the finance, banking and insurance sectors.

Work is continuing with the N.U.I.M steering committee for the development of the lifelong learning campus at St. Kieran’s college.

The Programme for Government provides for a Technological University of the South East.  There is a further potential role for local authorities to use research and innovation as a means to support employment creation and to promote a greater integration of local institutions in the delivery of supports for the local enterprise sector.  Local authorities can develop a more proactive approach to embrace and integrate aspects of the work undertaken by universities, institutes of technology and research institutions in provision of its business supports and develop a stronger working relationship with academic institutions.  Kilkenny Local Authorities will actively support the development of a Technological University for the South East Region.


Objective:  To increase co-operation between Kilkenny Local Authorities, existing third level institutions and the proposed Technological University for the South East to support employment creation, innovation and lifelong learning. 


4.4.2       Agri-Food

A high level food group has been established with representatives from the agri-food sector including S.M.E’s and Leader to progress the county under Food Harvest 2020.   This group is concerned with four areas;

a)      expansion of the milk supply post 2015

b)      food sustainability

c)       improved routes to market for S.M.E’s

d)      development of a food excellence centre(s)


A technical working group has also been established with representatives of Teagasc, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Dept. of Agriculture, the Dept. of the Environment, Community and Local Government, the River Basin Catchment Management Team and the local authorities to examine environmental management issues in relation to the expansion of the milk supply.  This group links to work being done at national level by the Dept. of Agriculture and by River Catchment Management.  Kilkenny will be a pilot programme.  This initiative represents an important development of Kilkenny as a site for artisan food production and for ‘ahead of the curve’ environmental infrastructure under the Harvest 2020 brand.



To ensure the highest standards of environmental protection in the assessment of planning applications for all development proposals.


4.4.3       Services Development

Linkages are being developed with multi-national companies in the I.T. and Financial Services sectors. The initiative under 3rd /4th level education and research is targeted at the financial, banking and insurance sectors. The T.S.S.G research work looks at the next generation of applications in these sectors.

The investment in the Research and Innovation Centre at St. Kieran’s establishes Kilkenny for the first time as an important centre for ICT and establishes new national capability for internationally traded services and more specifically for the finance, banking and insurance sectors. The centre will be a new resource and attraction for ICT and finance operations of all major companies.


To ensure an adequate amount of employment land on a campus type environment is available within the City for ICT and technology office based industry at the appropriate strategic locations. 


4.4.4       Tourism, Arts and Leisure

Tourism has been identified as a significant driver of the local economy. Tourism plays an important economic role within the city and county, and income derived from tourist activity is distributed across a wide range of economic sectors.  Fáilte Ireland estimates that the tourism industry was worth upwards of €360 million in visitor expenditure to the South East region in 2010 and sustains at least 10,000 jobs[13].

Building on what Kilkenny already had in terms of tourism product, the local authorities sought to assemble a number of tourism infrastructure initiatives which would add value to the Kilkenny tourist product.

From that analysis, a package known as the ‘Medieval Mile’ was developed, which is based on 6 projects.  Grant funding was secured from Fáilte Ireland in 2012. The projects are:

  1. Public realm improvement from The Parade to Irishtown
  2. A new museum of National and local attraction to be housed in a restored St. Mary’s Hall,
  3. A great garden along both backs of the River Nore between Johns bridge and Greens bridge,
  4. The restoration of Evans home to include a new Butler Gallery,
  5. A new tourist  office to be housed within the Tholsel, and
  6. A vertical garden structure located at Irishtown adjacent to the entrance to the Smithwick’s brewery site.

Initial detailed planning and consultation has commenced on the public realm with design work also commenced on the St Mary’s Hall project.  A total investment of €15m will be involved for all six projects over the life of the 2014 to 2020 Plan.

The development of these attractions in the city will assist in the enhancement of the tourism product for the city and county leading to an increase in tourist numbers and increased economic activity.



  • To deliver and implement the 6 projects associated with the Medieval Mile proposals during the lifetime of the Plan 2014 – 2020 for the city and county.


4.4.5       Life Sciences including Pharma with specific focus on Belview

Kilkenny County Council, the IDA, and the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government have invested over €13m in water infrastructure in the Belview strategic development zone.  In addition to this there is significant reserved capacity in the waste water treatment plant serving Waterford city which is located at Belview.


This has provided a fully serviced site and surrounding area primed for strategic development and foreign direct investment.  The Belview area became the site of choice for an investment of €150m by the multinational food company Glanbia in its planned expansion for increased milk supply post 2015. Work has commenced on the project in Belview.


4.5       Strategic Locations for Enterprise and Employment

Within County Kilkenny there are two nationally and regionally important strategic locations for enterprise and employment. These are Kilkenny City & Environs and Belview Port in the environs of Waterford City in County Kilkenny.  The four District Towns also provide an important role in driving development within the county. 


4.5.1       Kilkenny City

Kilkenny has many strengths as an attractive location for industry as:

  • The administrative capital of the County;
  • A reasonably sized city and environs with population of 24,423 (in 2011)
  • Designated as a Hub under the National Spatial Strategy;
  • Motorway connections to Dublin, Waterford and Belview Port.
  • Containing excellent infrastructure in terms of roads, rail, airports and seaports – only 120 km from Dublin airport and 45 km from the port facilities at Belview in South Kilkenny and the South East Regional Airport at Waterford;
  • Excellent social and leisure amenities with good quality urban and natural environment;
  • Proximity to various third-level colleges in the south-east and developing third level connections with Waterford and Carlow Institutes of Technology and continued development of outreach facilities from NUI Maynooth.



To ensure that an adequate quantity and range of land is available for enterprise development and that the appropriate infrastructure is provided.

4.5.2       Belview Port

The Belview Port area is located approximately 5km downstream of Waterford City in the River Suir estuary.  The Port at Belview is a strategic national, regional and county asset with good road and rail links. The role and status of the port nationally and regionally should be strengthened in line with the NSS by supporting and promoting a balanced multi-modal freight transport policy that safeguards the importance of rail transport as a means of access to the port.

The port has excellent road connections to the national motorway network via the N29 and N25 routes and has benefited significantly in terms of access through the provision of the Waterford Bypass and onward connections via the M9 motorway.


4.6       Retail Strategy

Kilkenny County Council and Kilkenny Borough Council adopted the first Kilkenny City and County Retail Strategy in 2002.  There have a number of reviews of the strategy since then (in 2005 and again in 2008).  The 2008 strategy was adopted prior to the economic collapse which occurred in September of that year.

The 2008 strategy operated in a set of economic circumstances where prospects for economic growth, disposable incomes and population growth are lower than anticipated in 2007/2008 when the strategy was prepared.

An important part of the review was the updating of baseline information.  This included the following:

  • Review of population figures and forecasts
  • Updating the floorspace survey
  • household and shoppers surveys
  • A broad capacity assessment for the requirement of additional retail floorspace
  • Updating the health checks of Kilkenny City, Callan, Castlecomer, Graiguenamanagh and Thomastown

The objective of the review was to ensure that the requirements of the Retail Planning Guidelines[14] would be met in the Development Plan i.e.:

·         Confirmation of the retail hierarchy,

·         Definition of the core retail area of town centres,

·         A broad assessment of the requirement of additional retail floorspace,

·         Strategic guidance on the location and scale of retail development,

·         Preparation of policies and action initiatives to encourage the improvement of town centres,

·         Identification of criteria for the assessment of retail developments.


4.6.1       Overview of Progress

Since the adoption of the 2008 Retail Strategy, developments in retailing in the city and county have included the development of discount retailers in four sites within Kilkenny City and environs, and in Callan.  The Ferrybank shopping centre has been completed but is un-opened.

In general the convenience offer of the city and county has been improved during the period of the last plan.  McDonagh Junction shopping centre has been trading and established itself since late 2007 and it has offered additional comparison and convenience retailing to Kilkenny City & Environs in a high quality setting.

4.6.2       County Retail Hierarchy

Following a review of the retail hierarchy in the 2008 strategy against the factors and influences that have changed since the adoption of the 2008 strategy the following hierarchy is proposed.


Table 4.1: County Retail Hierarchy


Level/Retail Function



Level 1 Major Town Centre/County  Town

Kilkenny City & Environs

Level 2

District Centre


Ferrybank  (part of Waterford environs)

Level 3

District/sub county  town





Level 4 Neighbourhood Centre

As designated for Kilkenny City & Environs (Newpark, Loughboy, Loughmacask, Western Environs) and  Ferrybank/Belview  area in the Environs of Waterford City

Level 5  Small Town/village centre/Rural Area



The modifications are that the level 3 designation is simplified into one District/sub county town category to cater for all of the district towns in the county, and the designation of the Ferrybank shopping centre as a district centre.  This hierarchy is consistent with the core strategy and the Retail Planning Guidelines.



4.6.3       Core Retail Area

The review of the main centres within the county confirms that the Core Retail Area remains relevant only to Kilkenny City Centre and that the four District Towns are of insufficient scale to warrant such an approach.  It is considered that the approach for the development of these towns should be in keeping with the scale and character of existing development and guided by the provisions of the Retail Planning Guidelines and the relevant Local Area Plan. This will be reviewed again during the life of the plan having regard to the performance of the District Towns over time.

The core retail area for Kilkenny City Centre and the 400metre edge of centre boundary are shown in Figure 4.1. The core retail area comprises the following streets: High Street including Market Cross Shopping Centre, Rose Inn Street, and St Kieran’s Street. 

The review confirms that the existing core retail area should be retained in the best interests of the retail future of the city centre and the city and county as a whole.

Key considerations in arriving at this conclusion include:

  • The larger the defined core retail area then the greater scope to diffuse the retail floor space around a wider area.
  • This could bring policy conflicts and a potential wider distribution of floor space.
  • The result could be a real threat of weakening, not strengthening, the prime shopping area.


4.6.4       Broad Assessment of Additional Retail Floorspace

This review covers the period 2014 to 2020 and in spatial planning terms takes a longer term view beyond the 2020 horizon of the plan period. The capacity assessment itself does not go beyond the 2020 timeframe due to the volatility and uncertainty of the economic climate, the difficulty in reliably projecting economic trends into the future and the need for periodic reviews of the strategy to take account of revised national and regional population figures and changing economic circumstances.


One of the key requirements of the Retail Planning Guidelines is that retail strategies should provide a broad assessment of the additional retail floorspace required in counties over the lifetime of their strategies. The broad assessment of the requirement for additional retail floorspace is provided by projecting the future population changes and the growth in consumer spending.  This strategy takes account of  the proposed changes to the population over the plan period, updated information on expenditure, retail floorspace, extant planning permissions and the findings of the 2010 household and shopper surveys.


The estimates are intended to provide broad guidance as to the potential additional quantum of convenience and comparison floorspace provision.  It is intended that the figures are not treated in an overly prescriptive manner are not intended to inhibit competition in the market place.

The key inputs and outputs to the capacity assessment are a derivation of the steps below[15]:

Step 1: Population and Expenditure Estimates

Step 2: Turnover Estimates

Step 3: Turnover Ratios

Step 4: Gross Additional Expenditure Potential

Step 5: Future Sources of Retail Sales

Step 6: Capacity Potential


The following broad assumptions were made in calculating the capacity assessment. Since 2008 disposable incomes have fallen and both direct and indirect taxes have and will affect disposable income into the immediate future.  Taking this into account and reviewing the expected growth in the economy in the short to medium term it has been decided to take a conservative view in relation to expenditure growth per capita.


It is assumed that expenditure growth in convenience spend will be zero between 2013 and 2015. This is because most households’ requirements in respect of convenience products have been largely satisfied and because of the national budgetary corrections.  It is also assumed that expenditure growth in comparison spend will be zero between 2013 and 2015 as the austerity measures will last until the 2015 national budget with further money being taken from the economy in addition to the personal and indirect taxes already imposed such as property tax, water charges etc. prior to 2013.


The Central Bank of Ireland (2013 Quarterly bulletin[16]) predicts a fall in consumer spending of 0.4% this year (2013) and a rise of 0.2% next year (2014).  The ERSI in its Quarterly Economic Commentary of Winter 2012[17] sees domestic demand contracting further due to continued fiscal adjustment and deleveraging.  From 2015 onwards it is anticipated that there will be modest growth in the national economy of the order of 2 – 3 per cent per annum.


From 2015 to 2020 therefore it is assumed that growth in convenience expenditure will be 0.5% per annum and 1.5% in comparison spend.


For 2014 it is assumed that the inflows and outflows remained the same as at 2010. From 2015 onwards it is assumed that convenience inflows and outflows will remain the same as at present as there is no proposal to bring forward a significant convenience proposal for the city or county.


Based on these assumptions the available per capita expenditure is predicted as follows:


Table 4.2: Projected Expenditure  per Capita













Source: Capacity Assessment, Appendix A


Total Available Expenditure

This is calculated by multiplying the population by the expenditure per capita for each category.



The population estimates for the county are as follows using the Regional Planning Guideline targets, adjusted to take account of the CSO 2011 Census of population.


Table 4.3 Population Estimates


2011 (actual)




County Population





Source: Population projections are taken from Chapter 2 of this plan. 


Therefore the total available expenditure for the county is as follows:



Table 4.4 Total Available for Convenience Expenditure in County Kilkenny











Different levels of turnover will apply to comparison goods such as clothing and footwear and smaller household durables than would apply to bulky household goods sold in retail warehouses. Retail warehouses have a distinct function and are generally located outside of a city or town centre.  It is necessary to split the available comparison expenditure between bulky and non-bulky comparison goods.


Having regard to the Household Budget Survey[18] and experience elsewhere in this respect, it is estimated that approximately 20% of comparison expenditure will be accounted for by bulky household goods in retail warehouse type premises.  Based on this 20% proportion, the total available comparison expenditure split between bulky and non-bulky goods is set out below. 


Table 4.5:  Total available for Comparison expenditure in Co. Kilkenny


Bulky Goods

Comparison excl. bulky goods











To obtain the indicative floorspace figures, the  surplus of expenditure that can maintain additional retail floorspace within the county  is obtained by subtracting the turnover of existing convenience, comparison and bulky goods expenditure (for 2012) from the total available expenditure  projected forward to 2014 and 2020.


In order to calculate the requirements for additional retail floorspace within the County, the turnover per sq. m. of new retail floorspace is divided by the surplus spend available set out above[19].


Table 4.6: Future Indicative Floorspace Requirements













Bulky Goods

- 6820m2




The table above shows that there is potential for additional convenience and comparison floorspace in the county in the period between 2014 and 2020.  However these figures do not take into account extant permissions since 2010 which have been delivered or will be delivered during the next plan period.



Since the compiling of the floorspace figures used in this analysis the following significant convenience retailing space has been granted in the City and Environs of Kilkenny.


  • Two Aldi discount stores with 1,125m2 and 1,144m2 of net retail space.
  • A discount store for Lidl was granted with 1,274m2 of net retail space. 

These are all trading and the total net retail space provided is 3,543m2.


  • A further Aldi store of 990m2 net retail area is under construction in Callan and will open in 2013.


A further point to note is that Ferrybank District centre comprises 4,577m2 of granted convenience floorspace and has not yet opened. It is assumed that the Ferrybank shopping centre will not open until 2014 at the earliest.



Since the floorspace survey was carried out in 2010 no significant comparison floorspace has been granted permission within the county.  At that time extant floorspace was permitted at the Kilkenny Retail Park. This, plus vacant space totalled 2991m2 for bulky goods. MacDonagh Junction had 1,549m2 of vacant floorspace and in Ferrybank 4,341m2 was constructed and is anticipated will not trade before 2014.


It is assumed that the Kilkenny Retail Park floorspace will trade post 2014.  Factoring these figures into the derived figures, as set out in Table 4.6, gives a final adjusted floor space requirement, shown in Table 4.7. 


Table 4.7: Final adjusted Indicative Floor Space Requirements













Bulky Goods

- 6820m2




It must be borne in mind that these figures are produced on the basis of population targets set out in the South East Regional Planning Guidelines for 2016 and 2020, adjusted to take account of the 2011 Census.  The 2011 Census showed that the county, while performing above the national average in terms of population growth, did not reach the target as set out in the South East Regional Planning Guidelines for 2011.


Table 4.7 indicates a demand at present for an additional 3,497m2 of convenience retail space within the county, even allowing for the opening within the last two years of a number of discount retailers within the city and environs.


A further discount retail unit will open in 2013 in Callan, and assuming the Ferrybank shopping centre opens in 2014, this uses up a substantial portion of the projected convenience capacity assessment up to 2020.  However capacity assessment is only one element of the criteria used to assessment significant retail proposals. See Section 4.8.2 below.

The effect on capacity when the Ferrybank shopping centre is included is of concern. It has the potential to impact on the development of additional significant convenience floorspace being developed over the period of the strategy.

Having regard to the population growth within the City and Environs and the shopping patterns within the county as evidenced by the household and shoppers surveys, it is considered that there is room for additional convenience capacity within Kilkenny City and environs during the plan period notwithstanding the build out capacity of the Ferrybank shopping centre.

The extent of that floorspace would need to be verified and justified through any planning application by means of a detail retail impact statement. 

With regard to comparison, Table 4.7 illustrates that there is capacity for additional comparison floorspace from now until 2020.

The bulky goods figures justify the rationale of not allowing further retail warehousing parks within the Environs of the city during the last plan period 2008 – 2014.  It is considered reasonable to continue that policy for the period 2014 – 2020 in the light of the figures in this revised strategy.


4.7       Review of Retail Potential

4.7.1       Kilkenny City & Environs

During the 2008 – 2014 plan period, the main focus for retail development in the City & Environs has been the delivery of additional convenience floorspace in the form of discount retailers (Aldi and Lidl).  Each of these retailers has now a presence in and around the neighbourhood centres of Newpark and Loughboy.  As before, in reviewing the potential of the City and its environs the strategy is guided by the sequential approach.  The city can be divided into three areas as follows:

  • City Centre (core retail area)
  • Edge of Centre
  • Out of centre       City Centre

The review confirms that there are a limited number of sites with retail potential within the existing core retail area.  One potential building within the core area is the Kilkenny Arcade which has a floor area of 1915m2 with access from High Street linking through to James’ Street. This is the only partially vacant site of notable size within the core retail area.  Permission has recently been granted by An Bord Pleanála for a gaming arcade at this location.

In addition to this it is noted:


  • There are no other sites or buildings of any substantial size available for retail development within what is termed the Core Retail Area. 
  • The Architectural Conservation Area policies covering the City Centre effectively remove any potential now and in the future for major redevelopment of space within the City Centre. 
  • There is potential for improvement and enhancement of the City Centre offer in both retail and leisure, by utilisation of vacant floorspace, conversions and gap infilling and this can be addressed under normal development control policies and procedures.       Edge of Centre

In the 2008 – 2014 Development Plan the former Kilkenny Mart site was identified as providing the basis for the second phase expansion of the city centre.  Since that time, another significant site has emerged for redevelopment. The drinks company Diageo has taken a decision to terminate brewing at the former Smithwick’s brewery site adjacent to the Rivers Nore and Breagagh.  The site is approximately 5.4ha in extent with existing vehicular access from Irishtown and Bateman Quay.


In December 2011 permission was granted by An Bord Pleanála for the construction of the Central Access Scheme which dissects the Smithwick’s site.  It is anticipated that brewing will cease on the site at the end of 2013 and that Kilkenny Local Authorities will take possession of the land in 2014 following decommissioning of the site.  Kilkenny local authorities already own 0.8ha of land allocated to car parking along Bateman Quay which is adjacent to the brewery site and immediately adjacent to the core retail area.

The former Kilkenny Mart site is 5.5ha in extent and has been vacant since 2007.  An Bord Pleanála refused permission for a substantial mixed use development on the site in 2007.  The site is dissected by the Central Access scheme.

Effectively therefore, there are two edge of centre sites located in the City which could accommodate mixed use expansion.

Having regard to the sequential approach to retail development, the potential for synergy between the Smithwick’s site and the existing retail core area, the potential to deliver other planning objectives linked to the public realm and tourism and the potential contribution of the Smithwick’s site to the vitality and vibrancy of the city centre area generally, it is considered that the Smithwick’s site should be the focus for retail expansion in the city and environs over the plan period.  This strategy will ensure both consolidation and expansion of the city centre, the Bateman Quay area and the Smithwick’s site over the short, medium and long terms.

There are constraints to the Smithwick’s lands such as potential flooding and heritage issues. These will be major considerations and how to harness and maximise the potential of the site and the heritage assets will require an in-depth examination and analysis (See Section 3.4.3).       Out of Centre

There will be a general presumption against large out-of-centre retail development, in particular those located adjacent or close to existing, new or planned national roads/motorways.  It is recognised in the Retail Planning Guidelines that in general retail warehouses do not fit easily into town centres, given their size requirements and the need for good car parking facilities. The Smithlands (Kilkenny Retail Park) and Ormond Retail parks were identified as locations for retail warehousing.  The 2008 – 2014 Retail Strategy indicated that no further retail warehousing parks should be developed in and around the City.  Having reviewed the indicative floorspace capacity and the amount of vacant retail warehousing space in and around the City and Environs it is considered reasonable to continue that policy for the period of the new plan as:


  • New comparison floorspace should be located in the City Centre and edge of centre sites to enhance the attraction and competitiveness of the City and County in the National and Regional retail hierarchies.
  • There are concerns that the retail warehousing floorspace is competing with the comparison offers of the City Centre and the District Towns.
  • The indication in the indicative capacity assessment of the over-provision of retail floorspace in the City and county.
  • The level of vacancy in the existing retail warehousing parks.



No further retail parks will be granted permission in and around the City and Environs over the period 2014 – 2020.


In this regard, a cautious approach will be taken regarding further such developments over the period of the strategy.


4.7.2       Ferrybank/Belview (Waterford City Environs)

The Ferrybank shopping centre was completed during the 2008 – 2014 Development Plan period.  However it remains unopened for retail use. It has permitted convenience floor space of 4,577m2 and comparison floorspace of 4,341m2.  It also has the potential to deliver a range of retail and non-retail service functions (e.g. banks, post office, local offices, restaurants, public houses, community and cultural facilities) for the community at a level consistent with the function of that centre in the Ferrybank/Belview area of the Waterford Gateway within County Kilkenny.

In 2012 Kilkenny County Council developed a new area office and branch library within the centre.  The Ferrybank shopping centre is a district centre within the retail hierarchy of the county.  It is also designated as a district centre within the retail strategy of Waterford City Council. 

The Retail Planning Guidelines require that for the Waterford strategy area, that the local authorities of Waterford City and County with Wexford, Kilkenny and Tipperary prepare a joint or multi-authority retail strategy.  With a view to securing sustainable retailing within the region and, more particularly within the Gateway Spatial Area, Waterford City Council has committed to engaging with the Local Authorities of Counties Waterford, Kilkenny, Tipperary and Wexford with a view to preparing a Joint Retail Strategy for the Gateway.


To engage with the other relevant local authorities within the region in the preparation of a joint retail strategy for the greater Waterford City area.


4.7.3       The District Towns

The District towns are placed at level 3 within the County hierarchy.  They have populations in the range from 1,500 to 2,300 approximately.  They are centres that perform an important role in serving the employment, retail and community needs of their surrounding hinterland.  Each of the district towns has a statutory local area plan.

Objective:  To sustain and enhance the vitality and viability of the role and potential of the four District Towns.


4.8       Spatial Distribution of New Retail Development

The City and County Retail Strategy, in accordance with the Retail Planning Guidelines, provides the strategic policy framework for the spatial distribution of new retail development.  The emphasis is on strategic guidance on the location and scale of major retail development.  The Strategy does not seek to inhibit small scale retail development in centres around the County, particularly in smaller centres.  It should be taken to be implicit in the aims of the Strategy that such developments should be encouraged and facilitated to enhance the sustainability, vitality and viability of smaller centres, including smaller main centres in the County Retail Hierarchy. The following provides guidance on how the Retail Strategy defines the distribution of strategic and non-strategic retail floorspace within the retail hierarchy:


Level 1: Major convenience and comparison, recognising Kilkenny City in its role as a Hub performing an important retailing function.

Level 2: District Centre: To perform an important function for the local community with a good range of  convenience shopping and middle order comparison with a range of non-retail services such as banks, library, offices, public houses, restaurants serving the local community.

Level 3: District towns: District Towns play an important role within the county’s retail hierarchy.  They provide convenience shopping, alongside a level of comparison shopping, serving the population of the immediate catchment of the town and surrounding areas such as small scale hardware, retail pharmacies and clothes shops.

Level 4: Neighbourhood centres: Predominantly additional convenience but also post offices and small scale comparison such as pharmacies, hardware etc. serving the local neighbourhood.

Level 5: Small town/village centre/rural area: village stores/post offices in rural areas.



  • To improve convenience market share retained within the county to 80% post 2020[20]
  • To improve comparison market share retained within the county to 75% post 2020
  • To increase convenience trade draw from 8% to 15% post 2020
  • To maintain comparison trade draw  at 58% post  2020       Strategic Guidance on Location

The following have been identified as being of particular importance in examining strategic locations in the review of the retail strategy:

  • Current and pending strategic infrastructure investment;
  • Promoting city/town centre vitality through a sequential approach to development,
  • Securing competitiveness in the retail sector by actively enabling good quality development proposals to come forward in suitable locations,
  • Facilitating a shift towards increased access to retailing by public transport, cycling and walking in accordance with the Smarter Travel strategy,
  • Ensuring that retail development is plan led,
  • Delivering quality urban design outcomes,
  • Ensuring that the current strength and importance of Kilkenny City and Environs in the County, Regional and national shopping patterns is sustained and enhanced,
  • That the outflows of both convenience and comparison expenditure are redressed over time by providing the means to improve the attractiveness of the City and County’s retail offer for residents of the City and County,
  • That the decline in  inflows of convenience expenditure are addressed through the enhancement of the City and County’s convenience offer,
  • That the increasing inflows of comparison expenditure from visitors to the County from neighbouring counties and further afield are sustained and enhanced,
  • The vitality and viability of the District Towns and the measures required to sustain and enhance this;
  • The role of retail warehousing in the City’s retail offer.


4.8.2       Criteria for Assessing Future Retail Proposals

All applications for significant retail development should be assessed against a range of criteria.


Kilkenny City and its Environs/Ferrybank District Centre/Waterford City Environs: Developments of 1,000m2 (gross) convenience and 2,000m2 (gross) comparison located outside the core retail area of the city or District Centre will be tested by the criteria.

District Towns/Other Settlements: Proposals for 500 m2 (net) convenience and comparison developments should be considered against the criteria.       Sequential Approach

The overarching objective of the Retail Planning Guidelines is to enhance the vitality and viability of city and town centres in all their functions through sequential development.  Sequential development means that:


  1. The overall preferred location for new retail development is within city and town centres.  Retail development may also be appropriate within District Centres identified in the settlement hierarchy at a scale appropriate to the needs of the area. and
  2. Subject to the requirements below, only where the applicant can demonstrate and the planning authority is satisfied, that there are no sites or potential sites within a city, town centre or designated district centre should an edge-of-centre site be considered. In addition, only in exceptional circumstances where it can be demonstrated that there are no sites or potential sites available either within the centre or on the edge of these centres should an out-of-centre site be considered.


In addition to the sequential test, the criteria to be considered in the assessment of significant applications will include:


·         The expenditure capacity within the relevant catchment area, taking account of all extant planning permissions and development proposals/opportunities identified in the City and County Development Plans, including those for the District Towns and other settlements;

·         The baseline information and capacity/impact assessment is fit for purpose and transparent;

·         Support for the long term strategy for city/town centre as established in the Retail Strategy/Development Plan

·         The potential to increase employment opportunities and promote economic regeneration;

·         The potential to increase competition within the area and thereby attract further consumers to the area;

·         Respond to consumer demand for its retail offering and not diminish the range of activities and services that an urban centre can support;

·         Cause an adverse impact on one or more city/town centres, either singly or cumulatively with recent development or other outstanding planning permissions sufficient to undermine the vitality or viability of the city/town centre or its wider function in the promotion and encouragement of the arts, culture, leisure, public realm function of the town centre critical to the economic and social life of the community;


  • Cause an increase in the number of vacant properties in the primary area that is likely to persist in the long term;
  • How a shift towards increased access to retailing by public transport, cycling and walking in accordance with the Smarter Travel strategy is facilitated, so that the proposal is easily accessible by all sections of society; and /or links effectively with the town centre/core retail area so that there is likely to be commercial synergy.
  • The contribution of the development towards site or area regeneration and its contribution in terms of urban design
  • The role of the development in improving the competitiveness and retail offer of the city against other competing centres.


4.9       Monitoring & Review

This retail strategy is designed to ensure that the Development Plan 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 the city centre and town centres in the county and contributing to a high standard of urban design and encouraging a greater use of sustainable transport.  The retail sector is one of the most dynamic sectors of the economy and trends, influences and information change over time.  To ensure that the Strategy and its policies remain valid and up-to-date, the Councils will:

  • Carry out annual monitoring of expenditure and population forecasts and review strategy if required.
  • Monitor planning permissions for both new retail floorspace and change of use to keep the floorspace data up to date.
  • Review the Retail Strategy’s policies and objectives again in 2016.
  • Update the household and shopper survey data at the next review.


[1] Department of Environment, Community and Local Government, Supporting Economic Recovery and Jobs – Locally Local Government Sectoral Strategy to Promote Employment and Support Local Enterprise, 2012


[2] Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Action Plan for Jobs, 2012

[3] Department of Environment, Community and Local Government, Our Sustainable Future – A Framework for Sustainable Development for Ireland, 2012

[5] Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Food Harvest 2020, A vision for Irish agri-food and fisheries, 2010  

[6] Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, Green Tenders: An Action Plan on Green Public Procurement, 2012


[7] Fáilte Ireland, Tourism Facts 2011, 2012

[8]Kilkenny Tourism, Kilkenny Tourism Research Programme, 2004

[9] IPSOS Mori. Market Research on Heritage Awareness and Attitudes in Co. Kilkenny, 2004.

[10] Ecory’s & Fitzpatrick Associates, Economic Value of Ireland’s Historic Environment, 2012

[11] Bullock, C. et al. 2008. The Economic and Social Aspects of Biodiversity — Benefits and Costs of Biodiversity in Ireland.


[12] Fáilte Ireland, Historic Towns in Ireland: Maximising Your Tourism Potential

[13] Fáilte Ireland, Destination South-East A Strategic Plan and Work Programme 2011-2013, March 2011

[14] Department of Environment, Community and Local Government, Guidelines for Planning Authorities, Retail Planning, 2012

[15] The detailed calculations and methodology for calculating the broad assessment of retail floor space is contained in Appendix  C

[16] Central Bank of Ireland, Q1 Central Bank Quarterly Bulletin, January 13

[17] ESRI, Quarterly Economic Commentary, Winter 2012

[19] See detailed capacity assessment in Appendix B

[20] Not taken into account in the capacity assessment. These are targets to be achieved should proposals come forward for significant retail development that would affect inflow and outflow patterns.


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