A family-run retailer in Mullingar is seeking to stop further expansion of a rival supermarket chain by appealing the permission granted to Aldi for its second store in the town.
James and Anne Buckley, who run the SuperValu store between Barrack Street and Cusack Park, have submitted an appeal to An Bord Pleanála through consultants BMA Planning of Baggot Street, Dublin.
It contests the February decision of Westmeath County Council to allow the retail giant build a €1.7m single-storey store on the site of the former Westmeath Motors on the Dublin Road, sold to the German grocer by the McIntyre family last summer.
In their appeal the Buckleys contend that Aldi are being treated differently because the permission granted them was in accordance with a 2005 Department of Environment retail planning guideline which allows for the ‘discount’ concept, and not with the updated 2012 version which does away with this, replacing it with a floor area cap instead.
However, these new guidelines set this cap for a provincial town at 3,000 sqm, and this application is for just over half this, at 1,550 sqm.
Buckleys are also basing their appeal on the fact that for the previous owners to have converted the car showrooms into the existing BuyLo store in 2010, they needed the then county manager Danny McLoughlin to overturn its refusal in the first instance by the planning department.
For this repeal, he also went by the 2005 guidelines, saying: “It is a very different type of retail, and doesn’t have a direct impact on businesses trading in the same sector as supermarkets or superstores”.
However, as the latest guidelines had not been published at this time, no appeal was made to An Bord Pleanála against this development, and it went ahead.
“Such development should be primarily located in the town centre, or in a designated neighbourhood centre, in order to protect the vitality and viability of the town centres,” a spokesperson for BMA Planning said.
According to their plans, Aldi were to demolish the remaining showroom and the BuyLo shop and replace it with the new store, of which 1,140 sqm will be dedicated retail space.
The new store is to have an off-licence, 90 car parking spaces, and 15 spaces for bicycles.
As per company policy, a spokesperson for the German retailer refused to comment.
In April 2013, whilst opening its 100th Irish-based store in Co Kilkenny, Aldi announced it had plans to build another 20 stores across Ireland within three years, each employing around 15 people.
At the moment, one in every €14 spent on Irish groceries is handed over at Aldi tills (7.2 per cent ), while SuperValu acccounts for over a quarter of all grocery receipts in the State.
The company already has two stores in Westmeath, on the site of the former creamery on the Green Road in Mullingar, and the other at the eastern end of the Golden Island complex in Athlone.