30/01/2002

B&Q approval creates jobs confidence in Holywood

The green light has been given for the creation of a new B&Q store at the out-of-town Harbour Exchange shopping complex in Holywood after five fraught years of negotiations over planning permission.

Situated on either side of the A2 Belfast to Holywood road, the original proposal for the £65m Harbour Exchange included a Sainsbury's superstore and a new B&Q depot, along with retail outlets, a filling station, an 18-screen multiplex and a ten-pin bowling alley, with work shortly to commence on a leisure complex. It has been estimated that around 1,750 jobs could be generated by the new developments once they are completed.

Local traders in Holywood have long been opposed to the proposal, stating that the shopping exchange would have extremely detrimental effects on both their livelihoods. In addition, Belfast Chamber of Trade lodged an official objection on the grounds that the development would adversely affect retail activity in the city centre.

However, the new job opportunities promised at the Harbour Exchange have been warmly welcomed by the President of the Holywood Chamber of Trade and Commerce, S Gordon Duffield.

He said: "The fact that B&Q hopes to be on site by the summer brings closer to the local economy an asset which will eventually draw many thousands of new shoppers into the Holywood area. The complementary retail attractions of the town will benefit as a result - as will its hospitality industry." (CL)

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