Tesco has won a five-year battle to obtain planning permission for the largest hypermarket in the Irish Republic. The retailer acquired a 12 acre site on Dublin's northside in 1996 with the intention of building a superstore, but then environment minister Noel Dempsey outlawed superstores and it was back to the drawing board. Now the company has finally been given planning approval for a E70m shopping complex on the Malahide Road site, anchored by a 58,700 sq ft Tesco store, including food and non-food retail space. The store is massively in excess of the cap of 37,700 sq ft on grocery retail outlets in Dublin and 32,300 sq ft elsewhere in the country, imposed by Dempsey, but the Irish Planning Appeals Board has sanctioned the scheme, albeit with a limit of 37,700 sq ft of grocery retail space. In addition to the store, which will employ 350 staff, the complex will include 19 shops, a restaurant and over 800 car parking spaces. Construction is due to begin in the summer and to be completed by the end of 2003. A Tesco spokesman, welcoming the go-ahead, said the development would provide "a world class shopping service for consumers". However, RGDATA, the independent grocers' body which had bitterly opposed the project, also welcomed the decision. Director general Ailish Forde claimed the complex, as approved, was "radically different from the superstores that have caused so much damage to town and village centres in the UK and elsewhere". She felt the decision also clarified an important aspect of the retail planning guidelines. "In the application," she said, "Tesco had sought to argue that the retail planning cap should only apply to the sale of food products. "The Board has now made it clear that the cap applies to all convenience goods ­ food, alcohol, tobacco and non-durable household goods." {{NEWS }}