Bray Florentine centre site moves to planning application stage

Florentine 1

The Florentine Centre site in the heart of Bray has moved a stage closer to seeing development take place with designs beginning for a €24m 13,000 square metres retail and cinema scheme.
Members of Bray Municipal District have given their support to proceed to design and planning stage of the development which it is envisaged will consist of:
• Two anchor stores of 3,000 and 900 square metres each
• Four retail units of 700 square metres each
• Four 500 square metres restaurants
• A six screen multiplex cinema
• Undercroft parking.
The final configuration will be determined by the retail mix achieved. The centre will have access from the Main Street, Quinnsboro Road and Florence Road.
It is hoped to have planning documentation and an Environmental Impact Statement lodged with An Bord Pleanála by the summer with a decision on the application expected by the end of the year.
Wicklow County Council will be engaging with possible investment partners this year and would hope to have an open competition to select a partner towards the end of the year. It is envisaged, subject to planning consent, that the centre would be open for Christmas 2018.
The site has been the subject of three previous planning applications by Ballymore Properties. While site works were carried out at one stage, the actual development did not progress, and the land reverted to use as a car park five years ago.
Bray Town Council acquired the site from the Receiver two years ago. Estate agents Savills were subsequently appointed as the retail property advisors and architects were engaged to draw up feasibility sketches, to be used for costing and marketing purposes. The proposed layout and format was developed based on feedback from potential tenants and retail trends.
The principal aim of the new scheme is to complement the existing retail offer and in the process to reinvigorate the shopping experience in Bray. The presence of the cinema and restaurants will add vibrancy to the town’s evening economy which is of significance to Bray as a Purple Flag town.
The decision to proceed to planning and design stage was taken by a majority of councillors present at a recent workshop meeting of Bray Municipal District.
At the meeting a presentation by Savills’ Director of Retail, Mr Larry Brennan – along with Mr Jim Duffy of ADD Architects – indicated that the market is rebounding with a growth in retail sales and an upswing in occupier demand. This coupled with the shopper friendly design proposed, will ensure the success of the scheme, and enable Wicklow County Council to attract development partners.

The Cathaoirleach of Wicklow County Council, Cllr John Ryan, expressed his satisfaction with the proposal adding: “We could not have picked a better time to come to the market with this project. It is great to finally see the finish line and residents can look forward to the whole town thriving again.”
He explained: “It was agreed as policy of the Bray Town Council in 2010, based on the proposals of the economic think tank, set up to deliver a strong economic plan for the town, that the Council should purchase the part of the site they didn’t own so the town could have control of this critical site. “
The Chief Executive of Wicklow County Council, Mr Bryan Doyle, welcomed the support of Councillors and looked forward to the realisation of this scheme which has been foremost on the agenda of local Councillors for 20 years. “We expect this will have a huge impact on the business community as well as reinforcing the role of the Town Centre as the key meeting and shopping place for the citizens of Bray.”
Caption for attached photo: The Cathaoirleach of Wicklow County Council, Cllr John Ryan, and Bray Municipal District Manager, Mr Des O’Brien, examining the plans on the site of the proposed development.

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