A large number of the members of the Cashel Chamber of Commerce met last week to consider the merits of the proposed ALDI development on the Indaville site in Boherclough.
“The feeling of the meeting was very much against the development of the site for another major convenience store,” said Chamber President Sean Laffey.
“It just doesn’t seem to make any commercial sense for the town to have another convenience store. There will be too much duplication for all of the existing stores to be viable. We are looking at a development that would push the retail floor space up by a factor of almost another 20%, in a time when the population of Cashel is actually falling and people’s spending power is severely curtailed.
“If we look at the planning strategies that have been proposed for the town over the past half decade, the over-riding issue has been to increase the quality of the stores available to visitors and locals alike. That means more specialist outlets, and higher quality, more up-market food stores. One planning document went as far as to suggest that in order to make Cashel a destination worth visiting, and by that it meant the town of Cashel, not the Rock, then we would have to really get to work on the retail offering in the town centre. It concluded by stating that Cashel has the potential to be in the same league as Malahide or Kinsale. We can’t see that another major convenience retailer store so close to main street will generate more business in the town.
“We considered the jobs potential of a new store, we don’t have any guarantees that ALDI would buy from local suppliers, so the meeting concluded that the effect on local producers could be catastrophic. We are all to well aware of the problems of long supply chains when it comes to food retailing, the horse meat scandal is a prime example of what has gone wrong with the system. That was no doubt fuelled by the industrial supermarket chains waging a price war against each other.
“We’d like to champion food retailers who are buying in local produce. Food that is grown in fields within a few minutes drive of the town, artisan food where the butchers and bakers know what is in their products and personally know the producers who supply their ingredients.
“In the end that’s what our shop local campaigns have been about spending your cash on products from the town, keeping the cash in Cashel, that has to be good for everyone. ”
However, says Sean, there are other issues to address with any development of the urban space, “we have to mindful of the historic legacy we are dealing with, the duty of care we have for the built environment, the need to enhance the cultural contexts of those sites and the need to create a vibrant living working town.”
The Chamber will meet on Wednesday at 7.30pm in Kearney’s Castle to discuss a possible series of objections to the Indaville Development Plan. The meeting is open to the public and your views are very much appreciated and will be noted.