01/12/2009

Banbridge Tesco Plans Rejected

Supermarket giant Tesco has failed to secure planning permission for what would have been its largest store in Ireland. Proposals for the Banbridge development were turned down by the Planning Appeals Commission, the second time the application has been refused.

NI Environment Minister Edwin Poots supported his department's decision and told the BBC this morning that he had no way to be sure Tesco would remain in its existing Banbridge location as well as operating at the new location.

Tesco said its failed bid to built the 130,000sq ft store at the Bridgewater Park complex was "very disappointing".

The retailer indicated it would now "carefully consider" its options.

Plans to construct the store along the main Belfast to Dublin dual carriageway were first refused in 2008 and a public inquiry into the proposals was held in June this year.

The development faced huge opposition from town centre businesses in Banbridge.

Tesco planned to eventually withdraw from the local high street had the Bridgewater Park scheme got the go-ahead.
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Glyn Roberts, of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association, welcomed the planning refusal.

"There is no doubt that if this application had gone ahead it would have resulted in dozens of local businesses going bust and a net loss of hundreds of jobs," he said.

Northern Ireland Tesco Director, Gary Mills said hundreds of potential jobs have now been lost due to the decision.

However, he insisted the company's commitment to retain its existing Castlewellan Road store trading "for a minimum of ten years would have continued to provide strong links to the town centre from our edge-of-town location".

"We were hoping to be a part of this exciting new retail experience that would have attracted customers from right across Northern Ireland and even further afield," said Mr Mills.

"In the light of this negative decision and when we receive the full report from the Minister's office via the developer we will now carefully consider our options for Banbridge."

The Tesco scheme was being backed by three property development companies: GML Estates, owned by Guernsey-based businessman John Farmer, Land Securities, a major London-based developer and Stoney Properties, owned by the Newry-based Murdock family.

(PR/BMcC)

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