A cross-border retail strategy should be developed to help sustain trade in border areas, according to a new report from the Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht.
This strategy should recognise the commonalities and shared interests that exist in retailing issues between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and should be based on developing natural catchment areas, the report says.
The report also recommended that a detailed and comprehensive review of retail planning and planning guidelines in the border region should be conducted, leading to the implementation of a coherent strategy for maintaining the sustainability of border towns.
Among the reports other recommendations are:
• Acknowledge the importance of large towns in developing the border region and implement Business Improvement Developments that include location planning and place marketing strategy. Include within these developments a deliberate integrated strategy encompassing the retail experience and tourism in border towns and the in the border region in general.
• Involve all key stakeholders in the public and private sector, including local authorities, Government agencies, voluntary and community organisations and private companies, in this process.
• That the Joint Committee on Environment, Community and Local Government and the Committee on the Environment in the Northern Ireland Assembly continue to cooperate in addressing this issue.
• Request the North South Inter Parliamentary Association to examine these issues.
• Request the relevant Ministers in the Republic of Ireland and in Northern Ireland to work together in addressing these issues.
• Request the Irish Business and Employers’ Confederation, the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association, Retail Excellence Ireland, the Town Centre Managers’ Forum and any other relevant organisations in the public and private sector to work in close cooperation with each other to ensure that best practice is identified and implemented and that social partnerships are developed and taken advantage of.
Cathaoirleach of the Committee Michael McCarthy TD said: “Trade across borders has always been in a state of fluctuation with a winner and loser situation, and the border region in Ireland is no different. There are four main structural factors at play, which inadvertently affect retailing in border towns: socio-economics, transportation networks, frequency of public transport, and tourism. But, the ultimate challenge for retailers in town centres today extends beyond exchange rate fluctuations, encompassing profound changes on a global level and more locally, the need for change in planning legislation. This report recommends a small number of clear, actionable measures that could make a difference for retailers north and south, the chief of which is the development of a retail strategy for the border region.”
Read the report here: http://bit.ly/Y2kXWB