Call for rates to be imposed on car park spaces of out-of-town retail centres

Senator Paul Coghlan: Absence of measure represented glaring inequity

Senator Paul Coghlan: major town centres had witnessed the introduction of pay-parking, forcing retailers to impose charges. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Senator Paul Coghlan: major town centres had witnessed the introduction of pay-parking, forcing retailers to impose charges. Photograph: Dave Meehan

 


The imposition of commercial rates on the car parking space of major out-of-town retail centres was called for by Paul Coghlan (FG) in the Seanad.

He said it would generate some additional income for local authorities, adding that the absence of the measure represented a glaring inequity which was negatively impacting on the Irish town centres.

“This inequity, if left unchecked, will contribute to the erosion of the social, economic and community functions of Irish town centres and lead to dereliction, urban decay and the associated costs imposed on the wider society,” he added.

Mr Coghlan said major town centres had witnessed the introduction of pay-parking, forcing retailers to impose charges. Free car parking in out-of-town retail outlets acted as a distinct draw for customers with cars and drew them away from the town centres where they would have to pay for parking.


Rateable valuation
Mr Coghlan was moving his Private Members’ Valuation (Amendment) Bill, amending the 2001 Act, which would make car parking space attached to a retail outlets subject to rateable valuation.

It would be based on the revenue that would be generated from the space if it were charged at the current value imposed on street parking by the local authority in an urban area.

Mr Coghlan said nothing in the Bill sought to negatively impact on competition, choice or service for consumers. “But there is a critical need to look at the way in which the development of new out-of-town retail centres with large surface car parks are treated from a rates perspective in terms of the social and economic cost that they are imposing on town centres,” he added.

Seconding the Bill, Maurice Cummins (FG) said a glaring inequity in the law governing the imposition of commercial rates was negatively affecting the vitality and viability of towns and cities and conferring a competitive advantage on out-of-town retailers.

“The existence of free parking in out-of-town retail outlets acts as a distinct draw away from town centres for car-based customers because they would be otherwise obliged to pay car parking and face fines or, in some cases, clamping if they exceed the paid period,’’ he added.

Minister of State for Housing and Planning Jan O’Sullivan, representing Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin, said the Government would not oppose the Bill. However, she said any change to valuation practices had to be carefully considered.