The Kildare Village experienced a massive surge in visitors from outside the EU in 2012, particularly from China, which now boasts one third of all visitors to the outlet.
According to figures revealed in the Irish Times last week, the Village reported a 127% increase in tax refund sales last year. The massive increase is believed to stem from the influx of visitors from outside the EU. Shoppers from those countries are allowed to claim tax back on their purchases. Last year Chinese visitors increased their spending by a whopping 136%, while spending from Middle Eastern visitors grew by 123%. Other areas which also grew substantially were southeast Asia, the US, Russia and Australia. Tourists from overseas now account for up to 20% of visitors.
Meanwhile, the future expansion of the Village, which would see it almost double in size, is still in the hands of An Bord Pleanala. A decision is expected by April 4 although that could be extended if the board needs more time to consider the files.
Last November, Tesco, An Taisce and the Whitewater Shopping Centre, appealed Kildare County Council’s decision to give it the green light.
Value Retail Ltd, the company behind Kildare Village, also lodged an appeal with An Bord Pleanala against the conditions applied by the council.
The expansion, if allowed to go ahead, is expected to yield 350 new permanent jobs and 100 construction posts. The plans cater for 34 new units, two restaurants, a new information centre and an extra 409 car parking spaces at the site off the N7 motorway exit near Kildare town.
Whitewater Shopping Centre previously objected because of the “detrimental impact” the extension would have on the vitality and viability of Naas and Newbridge, including the Whitewater Shopping Centre. Tesco Ireland said it had no objection to the expansion but wanted a through road from the Monasterevin Road via its premises to the Village. Meanwhile, An Taisce raised concerns about providing enhanced public transport, reducing the number of parking spaces and changes to the car park.
The adjacent site, which is the subject of a separate planning appeal by McDonalds for a drive-thru restaurant is still with An Bord Pleanala. The company had originally been refused permission by Kildare County Council. It had been indicated a decision might be forthcoming before Christmas but the file is still being examined.
- Niamh O’Donoghue