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Why do people object to Lidl and Aldi in their towns?

“The Dublin 4s of the world prefer a Dunnes to a Lidl or an Aldi.”
Jan 28th 2017, 12:01 AM 58,509 115

IN CASTLEKNOCK, DUBLIN 15, there is a plan for a €15 million commercial development that would create 40 jobs and bring much-needed business the village.

But local politicians and many locals are completely opposed to it. Five minutes away, a similar plan for an Aldi was blocked in Clonsilla.

In Ardee, plans for an Aldi were put paid to by An Taisce and Tesco. Before the new year, Lidl’s plans for a store in Carrick-on-Shannon were given the kibosh by An Bord Pleanala.

Even when the stores are approved, like in Greystones, they come with massive objections locally.

90426264_90426264 Source: Sam Boal

But, why?

Plans for a store in the picturesque village of Bantry have been given the green light, but were objected to by one local, former town councillor Aiden McCarthy.

He told C103 in Cork before Christmas that his issue was around the sustainability of large multiples.

“In places like Youghal, Clonmel, Naas, Tralee, Drogheda, Dundalk, the supermarkets locate outside the town, the town centre dies and that’s the basis of my appeal.”

A person familiar with commercial real estate says that much of the issue for the German stores is size.

“A lot of the British and Irish chains will set up in shopping centres or in existing units, so they’re taking up space that’s already there. That means that they’re in the town and people tend to raise problems less.

“The German stores (Lidl and Aldi) set up outside towns or in newly-built developments, because they need the size and scale. They also have massive expansion plans that need to be met.”

Indeed, that was much of the problem in Clonsilla, where locals balked at the level of traffic that would be drawn to the already-busy area. Green Party councillor for the area Roderic O’Gorman said at the time that the method for calculating traffic was flawed.

Class war

90308427_90308427 Source: Leon Farrell/RollingNews.ie

But local critics were angered when a Lidl was given the go-ahead in Mulhuddart, a less affluent, but equally populated area in Dublin 15. That has led to some internet commentary that the Castleknock objections – and some others – are based on a perception that German supermarkets are somehow less glamorous.

Not so, says Ted Leddy, a Fine Gael councillor in Castleknock.

“The opposition to this development is widespread throughout the community, and contrary to some online commentary, it has nothing to do with the brand of the supermarket.

I reject strongly that NIMBYism or snobbery is behind the many appeals, objections and observations to both Fingal Co Council and An Bord Pleanala. The location of this development is completely inappropriate. With the economy improving, and a large number of new housing estates recently built approximately one mile to the west in the Carpenterstown area, traffic has significantly worsened in the Castleknock area.

“In addition, there are seven schools in the immediate vicinity of the proposed development which means traffic chaos is not just confined to morning and evening rush hour.

“One of the main lessons of the planning mistakes made during the Celtic Tiger era is that large residential or commercial developments should not be permitted unless the appropriate infrastructure is in place first.”

A planner with knowledge of the industry says that Leddy’s individual analysis may be right, but the overriding sentiment behind the internet commentary may be true.

“Fast food operators and discount food stores can get more objections in certain parts of the country with higher socio-economic standings. People in those areas can afford to pay the appeal fees, they’re a little more sensitive about their property prices and they get more involved in things like this.

“The Dublin 4s of the world prefer a Dunnes to a Lidl or an Aldi.”

Investment

Graduate jobs Source: Anthony Devlin/AP

For their part, Lidl says it has invested heavily in the Castleknock site.

“Lidl worked with renowned architects and design teams to not only address any local concerns, but to deliver the highest quality development for the area, which includes a state of the art Lidl store as well as residential and commercial units. Lidl also designed a bespoke website to give the community a greater insight into our plans, featuring a video walkthrough of the development as well as numerous visuals to show how the store and surroundings would look.

“Despite a small number of appeals to Fingal County Council’s decision to award planning, Lidl are delighted with the response from a larger part of the community who are in support of the development.”

While back in Bantry, the campaigners called the decision to grant planning permission a huge victory.

“This is a victory for all the struggling families in Bantry, for all the small businesses in town who were watching the locals leave to shop in somebody else’s town each week.”

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Paul Hosford

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