DISCOUNT RETAILER DEALZ faces the potential shuttering of a store in Wexford after losing a planning battle over the unauthorised outlet.
Last year, Poundland Limited applied for permission to retain the use of a warehouse in Clonard Retail Park in Wexford, where it has operated a Dealz store since August 2015.
Planning guidelines from the local council state that only businesses involved in the sale of “bulky goods” can trade from the retail park unit. However, the operator of Dealz wanted permission to operate from the unit for a period of seven years.
In a submission document to planning authorities, Dealz said it intends to relocate to a nearby location shortly.
Workers at the store also filed submissions to the council and raised concerns that their jobs could be lost if the store is closed, while Tesco called for the outlet to be closed in order to “avoid a detrimental impact on the town”.
However Wexford council ruled that the retailer broke planning laws by opening the store, adding that Dealz’s actions would have an adverse affect on the area by bringing footfall away from the town centre.
In a bid to overturn the local authority’s ruling, the British retailer appealed to An Bord Pleanála. In its objection, Dealz argued that Wexford council’s planning policy wasn’t being enforced consistently.
It said there are several firms within the retail park that do not comply with zoning policy for the retail park, including Woodies DIY, Home Focus, Petmania and Halfords.
It added that fast-food joint KFC and supermarket operator Aldi were previously granted planning permission to trade in the area despite “materially contravening the land-use zoning objective”.
An Bord Pleanála, however, recently upheld Wexford council’s decision.
An inspector for the national planning body said in their assessment that Dealz hadn’t provided evidence that its store “would not have a detrimental impact on the vitality and viability of the town centre”.
The inspector added that, in their opinion, the outlet had the potential to have an adverse affect on Wexford Town and it contradicted zoning laws set out in the council’s development plan.
Dealz had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication. The company has the option of appealing the decision to the High Court in order to have it overturned.
The planning dispute between Dealz and Wexford council mirrors a similar feud that erupted in south Dublin last year.
The company was refused permission by South Dublin County Council to use a unit in Fonthill Retail Park for one of its stores.
The company was already operating a store, employing around 30 people, in the Dublin retail park and sought permission to retain the use of the unit, which was earmarked for the sale of bulky goods.
Previous Fora analysis showed that Dealz had a track record for retrospectively applying for planning permission for aspects of its developments that were included without prior consent. Those cases span 15 different counties.
The approach has resulted in the company becoming embroiled in over a dozen disputes with county councils nationwide. Limerick council previously brought legal action against Dealz over a planning dispute, however the case was resolved out of court.