MORE than 60 city businesses fearful of more loss of trade to the suburbs have already donated to a fund set up to fight plans for a shopping centre on the Dublin Road.
The Limerick City Business Association is to launch a mass objection against plans to build the Horizon Mall shopping centre on the outskirts of the city.
The LCBA has contracted HRA planning, Hartstonge Street, to prepare a comprehensive objection to Belfast developer Suneil Sharma’s plans for a reduced-scale centre which could, if passed, see Limerick’s first Marks & Spencer open.
Members of the association have been approaching city businesses for support since Monday, and more than 60 have signed up.
The Business Association has sought a €50 donation from each business to help with the costs with progressing the objection.
The vast majority of businesses approached have donated, chairperson Helen O’Donnell says.
The fact that so many hard-pressed traders are willing to put their hand in their pocket at tough times is no doubt a show of the fear they have at the presence of a new shopping centre in the suburbs.
“People see the value in what we are doing. We are going forward as a united voice. The business community is united, and people are contributing,” Ms O’Donnell said.
One of the people who has contributed to the fund is Shane Gleeson, of Gleeson’s Spar in Catherine Street.
He said: “We have already seen a dramatic reduction in the number of retail businesses due to the fantastic success of the Crescent Shopping Centre. We know from what we have seen in America how incredibly dangerous it is to allow the hollowing out of city centres.”
Mr Gleeson insisted traders in the city are not anti-progress.
“Nobody is against progress, nobody wants to see a half-built site at one of the key arteries into the city. But at the same time, the city centre needs to be developed first. The city centre is the key for the city as a whole. The priority has to be the city centre,” he said.
Ms O’Donnell said the closure of Helene Modes after 60 years has sharpened the resolve of retailers.
“Things are still very tough. Hanging in there is difficult, and unfortunately some people have not been able to hang on,” she said.
But she said the LCBA was delighted with the response from the traders to the fact they are putting together an objection to the proposal.
“We have been working on the whole city project for three years, we have a consistent method, and I think people are glad somebody is taking a lead in it, and something is being done.”
The report from HRA planning costs in the region of €1,000 to prepare.
It is anticipated that the consultancy firm will submit the final report to local authority planners by mid-way through next week.
The business association will take submissions until the end of the week.
For more information call 061-415180.