Retailers alarmed at potential impact of city transport plan

Monday, 10 August 2015
New measures proposed under the Dublin City Centre Transport Study are likely to make large portions of the city entirely inaccessible to shoppers who prefer or need to travel by car, and would have a very serious and damaging knock on effect on city centre retailers, according to two leading industry bodies Retail Ireland and DublinTown. The groups said many of the study's recommendations were vague and called for any new proposals for city centre transport management to first be subject to robust impact assessment.

The groups warned that the joint Dublin City Council and National Transport Authority proposals to displace private car access to, through and within the core city centre zone will negatively impact not only local residents and commuters, but also those that wish to visit the city centre to shop, do business and spend leisure time. They would create enormous problems for shops trying to get goods to store, and for customers trying to bring purchases home. The proposals comes at an already challenging time for city centre retail, with intense competition from suburban shopping centres, the closure of Clerys, ongoing criminality and anti-social behaviours, and Luas construction work.

Data from the CSO indicates that Dublin is home to almost 10,000 individual retail and wholesale companies. The industry directly employs 27% of Dublin’s entire private sector workforce – a total of some 70,000 people. The overwhelming majority of large city centre retailers have expressed grave concern at the plans as currently set out and the impact they would have on footfall and turnover.

Dublin retailers have urged the City Council, the National Transport Authority and the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport to urgently take the following steps:
  • Reconsider the traffic management elements of the study to maintain easy and convenient accessibility to, through and within central Dublin for private motorists
  • Conduct a comprehensive industry impact assessment to properly and adequately evaluate the commercial and economic consequences for Dublin’s business community
  • Carry out a detailed piece of consumer research to appropriately gauge public awareness and opinion and the likely social impact of the measures
  • Conduct a detailed examination of the experience of comparator cities where similar measures have been adopted
  • Make a formal commitment to work with city centre business operators and relevant representative bodies on all future aspects of the study

Commenting on the measures, Conor Whelan Managing Director of Eason and Chairman of Retail Ireland said: “City centre retailers support efforts to improve Dublin’s public transport and the city’s environment for pedestrians and cyclists. However, these efforts should never come at the expense of private traffic access, to the point where large portions of the city centre are entirely inaccessible to shoppers who prefer to take their car. Dublin retailers have raised very serious concerns about the study’s proposals on car parking, tourist coach parking and crucially, the ability of commercial vehicles to conduct downtown deliveries. We are very disappointed that the measures were published without any consultation with Dublin’s retailers, which themselves play an enormous role in city life and generate a large portion of the DCC’s income through commercial rates.”

Ray Hernan, CEO of Arnotts and Chairperson of DublinTown continued: “The results of the National Transport Authority’s own on-street survey of 1,671 shoppers in October last year, found that those who had driven to the city centre accounted for the highest average spend, thus demonstrating the critical importance of maintaining private car access to safeguard the viability of rate-paying businesses and the continued vibrancy and desirability of Dublin city centre as the country’s premier shopping and leisure destination. Our view is that private traffic can exist harmoniously alongside public transport and that one mode need not have to replace the other to the detriment of the city centre’s business community.”