Chapter 5 Economic Development

closeddate_range17 Aug, 2019, 8:00am - 30 Sep, 2019, 5:00pm

Strategic Policy for Economic Development

 

Policy ED 1: It is the policy of the Council to facilitate and encourage appropriate, industrial, enterprise and commercial development in Croom, in accordance with the principles of sustainable development and to strengthen the viability of the town centre as the focal point of commercial activity.

 

Policy ED 2: It is the policy of the Council to complement the aims of the County settlement hierarchy in a mutually reinforcing and sustainable manner through the recognition of Croom as a main centre on the transport corridor, which will be promoted as a secondary development centre for significant future development. It will also serve an important regional employment function within the surrounding catchment area.

 

Policy ED 3: Compliance with Limerick County Development Plan

It is the policy of the Council to ensure all proposals for economic development shall comply with the policies, objectives and Development Management Standards of the Limerick County Development Plan 2010-2016 (as extended) and the objectives outlined below.

5.1 Introduction 

Croom is a service centre for its own community and its wider hinterland.  There is a range of businesses and services in the area, as previously detailed in Section 2.3 of this Plan.  Services include retail, food and drink sectors, community services and professional services. The largest employer in the town is the Orthopaedic Hospital. There is limited industrial development in the town.  The service and retail sectors, therefore provide the majority of employment opportunities in Croom. The proximity of the town to Limerick City and Charleville impacts on the potential of the town to develop as a significant employment base resulting in likely commuting to these employment centres.  However improved accessibility from the proposed M20 motorway and the rezoning of additional lands for Enterprise and Employment use are envisaged to improve the town economic situation.

 

Having regard to the desire to promote Croom as a sustainable settlement, additional enterprise and employment zoned lands are proposed in the proposed plan.  The location of the proposed “enterprise and employment” zoning has been chosen for a number of reasons;

  • Access to the existing N20;
  • Potential access to proposed M20 and
  • Access to the local infrastructure. 

Given the existing traffic congestion problems within the town centre, it is considered necessary to avoid channelling further potentially heavy goods vehicles through the town centre.

 

The economy of the area is largely geared around the provision of services and facilities for the local residents, but it also serves the hinterland and the wider catchment.  It is vital to the long-term development of the area, that economic activity is encouraged, maintained and enhanced through diversification with a strong emphasis on a high quality environment and high skilled employment. 

 

Croom’s location allows it to provide the critical mass to attract such economic activity and provide the services and amenities for employers and employees to locate in this area.  It is an objective of this plan to facilitate new employment through the provision of a choice of adequately zoned lands, encourage high quality design and layout and the provision of appropriate infrastructure to ensure their development.

 

Existing retail businesses range from small shops to a large convenience supermarket.  There is a wide range of amenity servings in the area including Croom Park and the Croom Sports Complex and a number of food outlets and public houses. 

 

Policies and objectives in the County Development Plan 2010-2016 (as extended) of relevance to land use planning in relation to economic activity in Croom include:

 

  • A general policy to complement the aims of the settlement strategy by facilitating a hierarchy of employment centres;
  • An objective to take a pro-active approach to the protection and improvement of town and village centres to serve their local catchment areas;
  • A commitment to work pro-actively with development agencies to secure an adequate range of locations for enterprise at key locations throughout the County;
  • Encourage the development of appropriate light industry and enterprise development;
  • An objective to assist in area based renewal projects in urban and rural areas selected for their potential for renewal and sustainable development;
  • Facilitate the development/expansion of local enterprise centres, so that local and indigenous industries have the opportunity to develop;
  • Facilitate the continuity and encourage the expansion of existing enterprises, having regard to the protection of the amenity value of neighbouring properties;
  • Support the development of sustainable development of tourism facilities.

 

Table 8: % of population employment by broad industrial group in Croom

Type of Activity

Percentage

Managers, directors & senior officials

7.9%

Professional occupations

10.7%

Associate professional & technical

7%

Administrative, secretarial occupations

11.5%

Skilled trades occupations

5.6%

Caring, leisure & other service occupations

16.9%

Sales & customer service occupations

10.7%

Process, plant & machine operatives

5.1%

Elementary occupations

10.4%

Not stated

14.1%

5.2 Employmnet Land Availability and Zoning 

A total area of 7.9 hectares of ‘Industrial’ zoned land was available for development in Croom under the 2009 – 2015 plan. The Croom LAP 2009 made no provision for Enterprise and Employment uses and it is proposed that the Industrial land zoning shall be replaced by Enterprise & Employment use in this plan, which allows for a greater mix of uses and further potential.

It is envisaged that these lands will facilitate economic development uses as outlined in the Mid-West Regional Planning Guidelines, including production and office development.  Development at these locations should refer to the Development Management Guidelines for Industrial/Commercial Development in Section 10.6 of the Limerick County Development Plan 2010 – 2016 (as extended). The form and scale of developments on these sites shall be appropriate to their location, having regard to surrounding land uses and scale.

The Croom LAP 2009 was adopted prior to the Guidelines for Planning Authorities on The Planning System and Flood Risk Management.  The availability of up to date flood mapping has identified that part of the lands along the north of town fall into areas at risk of flooding.  This encompasses all the Industrial lands zoned within the 2009 plan boundary and remains undeveloped to this day. 

 

The Council will continue to facilitate enterprise investment in the area and will work in co-operation with all concerned development and employment agencies and community groups.  The main objective of this co-operation is to encourage the provision of employment, developing local resources and promote Croom as an investment location. 

A high standard of design and layout will be required for new commercial/industrial developments.  The principle aims for these areas are to achieve high quality design and visual continuity, whilst ensuring the functioning of business and industrial locations. They should not function as retail centres.  It is envisaged that these lands will accommodate high quality and sensitively designed enterprise and employment development and complementary uses as indicated in the zoning matrix.

 

Objective ED 1: Economic Development Proposals

It is the objective of the Council to permit proposals for new industrial and enterprise development or extensions to existing industrial development in appropriately zoned areas, where it can be clearly demonstrated that the proposal:

  1.         Is located on appropriately zoned land;
  2.         Is appropriate to the respective area in terms of size and type of employment generating development to be provided;
  3.         Would not result in adverse transport effects;
  4.         Would have no significant detrimental effect on the surrounding areas or on the amenity of adjacent and nearby occupiers; and
  5.         Can be serviced efficiently and economically; and
  6.         That sufficient lands are reserved around site boundaries, in both individual sites and industrial parks to accommodate landscaping to soften the visual impact and reduce the biodiversity loss of the development, thereby improving the quality of the environment.

5.3 Small Scale Businesses in residnetial Areas 

Proposals for planning permission for small-scale business from people working in their own homes will be considered based on the scale and nature of operations. Uses that might negatively impact on residential amenity such as the repair of vehicles will not be permitted in a residential area. The level of customers/callers will also be taken into account.

 

Objective ED 2: Small-Scale Businesses in Residential Area

 

It is an objective of the Council to:

a) Permit home based economic activities where, by virtue of their nature and scale, they can be accommodated without detriment to the amenities of residential areas and where:

  - The use of the house for business purposes is secondary to its use as a  dwelling and the floor area of the business should reflect this; and

  Adequate parking requirements are met;

b) Permit non-residential uses in established and proposed residential areas, where they comply with the zoning matrix and are of an appropriate nature and scale for the location proposed. In general, such uses will only be considered, where they serve the needs of the neighbourhood within which they are situated.

5.4 Retail and Commercial Development 

The proximity of Croom to Limerick City, allows for easy access to the retail and commercial facilities within the City Centre, but the area itself is also home to a range of retail services, which serve the local population and the larger hinterland.

5.4.1 Retail Strategy for the Mid West Region 2010 -2016 as extended 

Colliers CRE Consultants prepared a ‘Retail Strategy for the Mid-West Region 2010 - 2016 (as extended). The Limerick County Development Plan, 2010-2016(as extended) incorporates the policy recommendations from the Retail Strategy as they apply to County Limerick.

 

The Strategy's primary purpose is to ensure that adequate provision is made for new retail development in the most appropriate locations and that excessive provision of retail space is avoided. The central key objective arising from the Retail Strategy is to support the "town centre first” approach in the context of the retail hierarchy, and to promote the vitality and viability of existing centres. The strategy notes that it is important for Limerick City Centre to maintain its dominant retail function at the top of the Mid-West hierarchy and to recapture some of the market share it has lost to other retail destinations.  The town centre has a very important strategic, cultural, economic and societal role in sustainable communities. 

Unfortunately, there is an issue of vacancy of both commercial and residential units in Croom’s town centre.  GeoDirectory figures for the last quarter (Q4) in 2018 indicate that of the 36 commercial units in the town centre 8 are vacant, representing a commercial vacancy rate of 22.2%, which is high. When compared with the GeoView Commercial Vacancy published by GeoDirectory the national commercial vacancy rate is 13.2% and it fell by 0.1% from 2017.  GeoView reports a commercial vacancy rate for County Limerick of 15.2% with a decline of 0.1% from 2017. This is affecting quality of life, amenity, public realm and streetscape. The issue easily exacerbates, as vacancy tends to have a contagion effect as adjoining premises are also at risk of becoming vacant. 

In terms of residential vacancy in the town centre, GeoDirectory records of the 81 residential units, 15 units are vacant which is an 18.5% vacancy rate. GeoDirectory records a category of units with a residential and a commercial postal address.  There are 7 of these combined units and 2 of these are vacant accounting for a 28.6% vacancy rate.

Table 9: Comparative analysis of Croom's vacancy with county, province and national levels of vacancy

 

Average Commercial Vacancy % Q4

Average Residential Vacancy%

Q4

2017

2018

2017

2018

Croom town centre

25.9*

22.2*

16*

18.5*

Limerick County**

15

15.2

5.1

4.9

National**

13.3

13.2

4.8

4.8

*Extracted from GeoDirectory and confined to town centre zone of this plan.

**GeoView Commercial and Residential Reports Q4 2017 and 2018

Since 2014, the Council provides grants through the Limerick Enterprise Office towards the fit-out costs for re-use of vacant properties in town centres through the Business & Retail Incentive Scheme.  The intention is to address vacancy, improve streetscapes and support the business community. To date there has been no uptake in Croom.

Current retail activity has a weak comparison element (car sales - only) and has some convenience element (grocery, bakery and pharmacy) and some hospitality (restaurant) and take-away. Croom needs a new retail landscape to counteract the challenge of modern retailing including e-commerce. Ideally, some small independent retailer presence would contribute to the vitality and variety to the retail experience of the town (eg. clothing, giftware, furniture, books, boutique/bespoke style business). Creative spaces for artisan/crafts people may also be suitable for the town centre development and reuse of existing vacant units. Local indigenous craftspeople and artisan niche business provide a unique experience in town centres and enhance the resident and visitor experience in the town. 

 

Given the strong built heritage value and the Architectural Conservation Area designation of part of the streetscape, the Council will require proposals to demonstrate adequate consideration is given in the design of new buildings to conservation, restoration and suitable reconstruction if required, whilst respecting the integrity of traditional plots and street frontage including quality traditional signage. 

 

The Council encourages property owners to consider conversion of the former commercial units to residential subject to compliance with regularity obligations, in the interest of re-use of vacant property in the town centre.

 

Future applicants for planning permission for business proposals in the town centre are advised to avail of pre-planning application discussions with the Council prior to making their submission

 

Objective ED 3: Retail Development

It is an objective of the Council to: 

  1. Emphasise the town centre as the primary retail centre of the town and ensure retail proposals comply with the Limerick Retail Strategy and any subsequent revised document and the Retail Planning Guidelines;
  2. Encourage new retail development to locate in the town centre by applying a sequential test on all lands outside town centres zoning;
  3. Promote sensitive infill developments on sites in the town centre, that are not developed and are not required for access to backlands;
  4. Ensure that proposals at ground floor level in the town centre are restricted to active retail, commercial, service, artisan workspace active use.  Storage use is not permitted on ground floor street frontage;
  5. Ensure that in any proposed alterations to the streetscape of the town centre, adequate consideration is given to conservation, restoration and reconstruction, where it would affect the settings of protected structures and the Architectural Conservation Area (ACA), or the integrity of the streetscape; 
  6. Seek high quality shop front design, with emphasis on traditional shop front design, including appropriate material and scale contributing to the built heritage of the streetscape.  Internally illuminated signs will not be permitted;
  7. Encourage the use of upper floors for commercial or residential use; and
  8. Discourage expansion or new build retail/service use outside the Croom LAP boundary

 

 

 Figure 13: Donal Daffy's Car Sales Croom

 

Objective ED4: Town Centre/Out of Centre Locations

it is an objective of the Council

a) On town centre zoned lands, to consider new petrol stations with an ancillary shop with a maximum net retail floor area of 100sqm;

b) In relation to Out of Centre locations, not to permit any more retail floor space;

 

5.5 Tourism

The development of the tourism offer is a magnet to promote and support the future development of Croom. Nationally tourism is considered vital to both urban and rural regeneration and job creation under the Programme for Government.  In terms of branding, Croom is included in the Failte Ireland national marketing initiative – Ireland’s Ancient East.  It is also one of the 74 villages supported and promoted by the Ballyhoura Development Association.  The Council is guided by the national tourism policy outlined in the Tourism Action Plan 2019 – 2021 by Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and at a local level by the Limerick Tourism Strategy 2017 – 2023. The Tourism Strategy seeks to capture opportunities for tourism development in Limerick City and County. The town is well known for the School/ Court of Gaelic Poetry, which flourished here in the 18th century. These Gaelic poets were known collectively as Fili na Maighe “The Poets of the Maigue”.  Glenogra Castle outside of the town is also known as the home of the Colleen Bawn. Other features of tourism potential include the two large Mills, either side of the River Maigue and Croom Castle, which is a private residence.  One of the Mill buildings has been renovated and operates as a business location in the town, while scope exists to develop the other Mill building, potentially for tourism uses.

 

Of crucial importance to the development and sustainability of tourism in Croom is the safeguarding of the natural, archaeological and built environment, encouraging the re-use of vacant or under used buildings and sites in the town centre and protection of the integrity and views of many of the historical structures and buildings in the town. Development management tools including the listing of Protected Structures, the Architectural Conservation Area, Special Areas of Development Control and the objectives regarding public realm and shopfront design are mechanisms designed to the protect the integrity of the tourism product the town has to offer.

 

The river amenity within Croom offers potential for tourism development and works to the walkway along the river bank has facilitated access to this great amenity. Tourism has the potential to make a significant contribution to the economy of the area and it is important that this resource is harnessed in a sustainable manner.  Sustainable tourism development will not only increase revenue for the area, but will also deliver on conservation, environmental and social goals.

 

 

Objective ED 5: Tourism

 

It is the objective of the Council to:

a) Enhance the tourism potential of the Croom area on appropriately zoned lands, including the promotion of new environmentally sustainable tourism products and visitor accommodation, including co-operation with the relevant bodies in the marketing and promotion of tourism in the area; 

b) Enhance the tourism potential of the town, including the promotion of appropriate tourism products in the town, such as the association with the Maigue Poets in an environmentally sustainable manner;

c) Facilitate the provision of tourism information signage in the town centre in accordance with guidelines, outlined in the Limerick County Development Plan 2010-2016(as extended) or any subsequent plan;

d) Continue to facilitate the enhancement of existing open spaces in the town centre, in accordance with guidelines outlined in the Limerick County Development Plan 2010-2016(as extended) or any subsequent plan;

e) Encourage new development for the tourist industry to be located near existing services and infrastructure to support the general economic vitality of the settlement.

f) Protect the natural, built and cultural heritage features from unwarranted encroachment or unsuitable development.