Proposed Cork Tourist Outlet Village to create 850+ direct jobs and draw 220,000 additional tourists to the region

A €100 million Cork Tourist Outlet Village proposed for East Cork will add a unique regional shopping and tourism destination to Co. Cork, serving the south-west of Ireland, and providing an excellent complement to the local towns and Cork City. 


Cork County Council is in the process of varying the County Development Plan to allow for this type of development; and Rioja Estates Ltd., a UK based Designer Outlet Village retail specialist, has made a formal submission to the proposed variation No. 2 to the County Development Plan 2014.


A site for Cork Tourist Outlet Village has been identified and secured at Killacloyne, Carrigtwohill, just off the Fota Junction on the N25 in East Cork, and the proposed development will create approximately 850+ direct jobs and will draw 220,000 additional tourists to the region annually.


Rioja Estates is the largest independent outlet promoter and developer in Europe with over 25 years’ experience, delivering over 4 million square feet of Outlet floorspace; and has developed or advised on 13 Outlets to date, with a further two large Outlet Villages under development in the UK.


Managing Director of Rioja Estates Giles Membrey said “Our extensive research, over the last four years has shown that there is room for one more Tourist Outlet Village in Ireland. A detailed search for potential sites throughout Ireland was undertaken, where it became clear that Cork was the preferred setting, with its unique demographic, transport links, high tourist numbers and positioning, as well as the opportunity to strengthen the region by complementing existing attractions.”


A Tourist Outlet Village is a specialist form of retail and tourist destination that sells heavily discounted products not normally found on the high street, for example end-of-line, seconds and out of season goods. They do not offer other services such as banks, building societies, post offices, hairdressers, dry cleaners etc. which help to underpin the vitality and viability of local town and city centres; and therefore complement, rather than compete with town and city centres.


Rioja Estates’ submission deals with potential retail impacts in detail, and some key points are that similar type outlets have been trading in the UK since 1995, with a significant amount of data supporting the fact that there is no material retail impact on existing town and city centres, and are in fact, complementary. 


Cork Tourist Outlet Village will reinforce Cork as a tourist destination and Rioja Estates’ submission indicates the potential for 220,000+ additional tourists to the region, with 60,000 additional tourist overnights in Cork per annum.


The detailed submission scores the site as the optimum site based on sustainable transport options across existing and future rail infrastructure, existing and future bus services, and existing road capacity; and the planning application will include specific road improvements to service the development. Mr Membrey added “We are an off-peak trader as we open at 10am and close at 8pm, and therefore we have no impact on any rush hour traffic.” 


Rioja Estates will also undertake a detailed environmental assessment and adopt a sensitive design approach reflecting the opportunities this site presents.


Commenting on the proposed development, Martin Riordan, Former County Manager, Cork County Council & Development Advisor said “It is important that Cork secures this investment opportunity, which will provide an additional tourism and leisure attraction for the region. The plan led approach proposed by the Council to guide and attract this type of development to the Cork region is to be welcomed. I believe that without a proper planning framework, this type of development will not be secured for Cork.”


Following the consideration of all submissions, Cork County Council will decide planning policy and guidance. Rioja Estates wishes to proceed to a detailed planning application in 2020. Mr Membrey went on to say “Rioja Estates will engage widely with all stakeholders prior to submitting any planning application, and are confident that we can deal with the range of issues that may arise during this process.”


Construction of Cork Tourist Outlet Village will take approx. 24 months, and it is possible that Cork Tourist Outlet Village could be open for business by March 2024.


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