Wilton traders ea­ger for up­grade

Irish Examiner - - News - Eoin English

Traders in one of Mun­ster’s old­est sub­ur­ban shop­ping cen­tres have backed to plans for a €100m re­gen­er­a­tion of the com­plex.

Traders in one of Mun­ster’s old­est sub­ur­ban shop­ping cen­tres have given a qual­i­fied wel­comed to plans for a €100m re­gen­er­a­tion of the com­plex.

The traders’ as­so­ci­a­tion in Wilton Shop­ping Cen­tre, in Cork’s western sub­urbs, said the fa­cil­ity needs in­vest­ment and mod­erni­sa­tion.

How­ever, they said they hoped the cen­tre’s own­ers, Claren­don Prop­er­ties, would en­sure the re­vamp did not cre­ate an “old ver­sus new” sce­nario, which could com­pro­mise foot­fall and trade in the orig­i­nal mall area.

“There is no doubt that Wilton Shop­ping Cen­tre needs in­vest­ment and a re­vamp,” a spokesman for the traders’ as­so­ci­a­tion said.

“The plans are big and im­pres­sive, but we would have con­cerns about some el­e­ments of the pro­pos­als.

“For ex­am­ple, we would have con­cerns that some of the ex­ist­ing en­trances could be­come re­dun­dant and that could af­fect the foot­fall pat­tern through the tra­di­tional mall ar­eas. The de­vel­op­ers must en­sure that the new de­sign doesn’t cre­ate an ‘old ver­sus new’ sce­nario.

“We hope that Claren­don will work more closely with us, as this project moves for­ward.”

The spokesman, who rep­re­sents 60 traders em­ploy­ing 500 peo­ple, was speak­ing af­ter Claren­don un­veiled draft pro­pos­als, for their am­bi­tious Wilton Town Cen­tre re­gen­er­a­tion project, at a pub­lic meet­ing in Wilton on Thurs­day.

As first re­ported in Thurs­day’s Ir­ish Ex­am­iner, Claren­don plans to re­tain the cen­tre’s ex­ist­ing malls, while re­de­vel­op­ing the en­tire northern side of the com­plex, with a vast new two­s­torey, mixed re­tail-use area on the site of the Pen­ney’s out­let, which faces de­mo­li­tion, along with a mul­ti­screen cinema, ho­tel, two new pub­lic plazas and a multi-storey car park.

Larger-scale re­gen­er­a­tion plans by the cen­tre’s pre­vi­ous own­ers, ap­proved by An Bord Pleanála in 2011, never pro­ceeded. How­ever, plan­ning for that scheme is valid for another two years.

A spokesman for Claren­don said they have spent 18 months ex­am­in­ing that scheme, the ob­ser­va­tions and ob­jec­tions, and the rel­e­vant statu­tory doc­u­ments, and new pro­pos­als re­solve many of the con­tentious is­sues raised, while cap­i­tal­is­ing on the strengths of the ex­ist­ing cen­tre.

Cllr John But­timer and Wilton Rd res­i­dents’ spokesman, John Leahy, said they had con­cerns about the de­vel­op­ment’s im­pact on traf­fic in the con­gested sub­urb.

Wilton Shop­ping Cen­tre opened in 1979. Its own­er­ship has changed hands on sev­eral oc­ca­sions.

Cur­rently, it is an­chored by a 24-hour Tesco and a Pen­neys, with 50 traders oc­cu­py­ing the smaller units. Wilton li­brary is on the same cam­pus. The cen­tre is op­po­site CUH, Wilton church, and the Wilton pub.

Claren­don, which is also be­hind plans for the €160m HQ de­vel­op­ment on Hor­gan’s Quay in Cork’s dock­lands, hopes to lodge a plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion for the Wilton project within months.

A com­puter gen­er­ated im­age of a sec­tion of the pro­posed Wilton Town Cen­tre Project. This is the pro­posed en­trance as viewed from CUH and the Bish­op­stown Road.

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