Retail Planning in Derry - September 2012

On 31 August 2012, the Minister for the Environment, Alex Attwood launched a major study entitled "Derry-Londonderry Retail Study". The study has been undertaken in the context of nine major applications for new retail space within the city of Derry. In an effort to assist in making balanced and informed decisions on these applications, the study analyses current shopping patterns for both convenience and comparison goods, and assesses the retail demand and potential in the city. Acknowledging the significant challenges faced by the retailers in the current economic climate, the Minister indicated the study would be of great assistance in determining the nine "largely out of town" planning applications.

 This study sets out a number of findings, including:

  • Retailers in the Derry area benefit from cross border trade. Of the areas surveyed in North and East Donegal, including Letterkenny and the Inisowen Peninsula, 44% of respondents regularly carry out their main food shopping in the city.
  • A significant proportion of those surveyed in Strabane who prefer to carry out their main food shop in the town were resident in Derry-Londonderry.
  • Shopper preferences are fairly evenly split between major existing food stores throughout the city.
  • The locations of foodstores alone do not determine the area from which trade will be drawn and how centres will perform. Surveys revealed that a high percentage of shoppers are willing to bypass stores in their immediate locality and will instead travel significant distances for a different shopping offer.

The Regional Development Strategy 2035 identifies Derry-Londonderry as the dominant centre of the North West for services, industry and employment and as a regional gateway to a number of key transport corridors. In 2001 the population of Derry-Londonderry was 83,699, second only in size to the Belfast Metropolitan Area.

Commenting at the launch of the study, Mr Attwood said:

“Making an assessment of nine major development proposals in Derry is a complex matter and I felt it was important to commission this study and get the most up to date insight about retailing in the North West before announcing decisions. Derry City is the main shopping destination in the North-West and decisions on the current retail applications will define the future of Derry’s retail offering for many years to come. These are not decisions that can be taken lightly and this study will greatly assist me in making the right decisions for Derry. My aim as environment minister is to ensure that Derry City Centre is protected, whilst growing jobs and the local economy. I understand that retailers in the city face significant challenges in the current economic climate and therefore in deciding these largely out-of-town applications, I will want to take full account of the overall impact on the City Centre. I want to re-emphasise my own personal commitment to the regeneration of Derry City Centre as the economic heart of the North West.”

It is proposed that the various prospective developers will have the opportunity to comment on the study and the Department of the Environment will consider any comments before the planning applications are determined.