Unfair competition posed by businesses which set up shop at out of town centre locations like the Tesco centre in Monread, Naas, should be hit with a new levy, according to a local councillor.
This levy should be the financial equivalent of charges normally levied by the local authority to provide car parking spaces.
Development levies imposed as part of planning permission conditions normally include a bill for car parking spaces.
Cllr. Seamie Moore believes that free parking available at centres on the outskirts of the town “is taking unfair advantage of the population base built up on the strength of the traditional town services.”
Kildare County Council believes that such a levy could not be imposed under planning legislation and it seems that a change in the law to facilitate this would have to be approved by the Government.
“We have a responsibility to identify town centre retailers who have been hit and correct bad planning decisions made through policy at national level,” he told a Kildare County council area meeting.
He recalled that both Kildare County Council and Naas Town Council opposed the Tesco project in Monread but it was approved by An Bord Pleanala.
“All its doing is dragging the life out of the town,” he added, claiming that there is no difference between prices paid by shoppers using the Naas town centre and outlying retail parks.
“The only difference is free parking,” he stated.
Retailers opening outside the town also had the advantage of lower property prices than those who chose to buy or lease in the town - because the centres were developed on less expensive green field sites. Cllr. Darren Scully said the failure of Naas Shopping Centre to open to date had led to a decline in town trade.