Thursday, February 28 15:51:07
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 shared interests that exist in retailing issues between Six Counties and the 26 Counties 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.
It calls for the acknowledgement of 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.
It wants to 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.
The Committee proposes 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 and wants the North South Inter Parliamentary Association to examine these issues.
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."