Dublin clampdown on licences?

10 December, 2010

The opening of new off-licences in Dublin is to be severely restricted for the next five years amid growing concern about under-age drinking and anti-social behaviour.

At a meeting on a new development plan for the city, councillors rejected a submission from Tesco, and urged a more stringent approach to off-licences, before voting unanimously to take a tough line on new openings. In future off-licences will be permitted only where the applicant can show that there is “a compelling case” for such an outlet in a particular area.

To prove their case, applicants will also be required to include a map showing all off-licences within a one kilometre radius of their proposed development. The new rules take effect from the end of this month.

In its submission, Tesco, the Irish retail market leader, argued that the adoption of such a policy would inhibit or slow down the roll-out of new Tesco Express stores and the jobs they would provide, and would reduce competition.

But councillors dismissed the arguments, despite reservations expressed by some council officials, and insisted there were already sufficient off-licences in place to serve most areas of the city during the term of the development plan, which runs from 2011 to 2017.

Afterwards, Councillor Emer Costello, a former lord mayor, whose Labour party proposed the new measures, said the vote reflected community concerns across the city. “There has been a proliferation of off-licences in recent times,” she said, “and, inevitably, that has brought problems of under-age drinking, street fighting and general anti-social behaviour in many communities.

“But all too often the community concerns and objections have not been listened to, with planners continuing to approve new outlets.

“As councillors, we’re not against off-licences and of course we would welcome any jobs Tesco can provide. But a balance must be struck and we have to consider the type of city we are creating if we go on approving more and more off-licences.”

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