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Swedish fashion chain H&M given go-ahead for major expansion of Westmeath store

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Leading fashion clothing chain H&M have received conditional planning approval to extend its retail footprint in Athlone Town Centre.

Swedish fashion chain H&M has been approved plans to carry out a large-scale expansion of its store inside the midlands’ largest shopping centre.

Local authority planning chiefs approved plans by the multinational clothing retailer to amalgamate three retail units over two floors in Athlone Town Centre.

Those plans were tabled back in March by Hurley Property ICAV, for and on behalf of its sub-fund National Property Fund.

H&M currently occupy a unit inside the largest shopping centre in the midlands, stretching over two floors.

All of the proposed modifications to the three units had largely revolved around internal works being carried out.

The ambitious expansion followed the clothing firm’s opening of its store at the refurbished Clerys Quarter on O’Connell Street in Dublin earlier this year.

In a planning report compiled by Dublin based consultancy firm McGill Planning, representatives for the fashion chain said the expansion would bring untold economic spin-offs to Athlone’s local business sector.

“H&M is one of the few comparison retail businesses actively expanding and opening new stores in Ireland despite the uncertain in-store retail environment post Covid with online retailing growing exponentially to the detriment of high street stores,” read an excerpt from the planning file.

“Facilitating the expansion of this long-term tenant for this retail space within Athlone Town Centre is critical to ensuring the ongoing success, vitality and viability of the Athlone Concentre Shopping Centre.”

In its ruling delivered today (Tuesday), Westmeath County Council approved the plans subject to three conditions being complied with.

They included directions for any shutters to be located behind the premises’ fascia and to not encroach on a public area.

The council also included prohibitions on any goods, sandwich boards or similar structures to be positioned outside the store and for the identity of any other future occupier of the building to be forwarded to the local authority in writing.

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