A Northern Ireland shopping centre with one of the busiest Sainsbury’s stores in the UK looks set for a £35m extension — despite the backdrop of a global downturn and a fall in shoppers from across the border.
The development at The Quays in Newry is expected to create around 200 construction jobs and 300 retail and other jobs on completion.
Environment Minister Alex Attwood said the centre had been given planning permission. He said it was great news for Newry, and added: “This is a good example of planning delivering for the economy.”
A Quays spokeswoman said half the planned retail units have already been reserved. There will also be an additional 600 space multi-storey car park.
It is thought the extension will be linked to the existing mall by a glass-covered bridge.
Building work is due to start in late 2012 with completion late 2013.
Quays owner Dr Gerard O’Hare said he was “delighted” the new project was to be approved by the DoE.
“In the present market conditions it is not easy to plan new projects but we believe that good sound development is more important than ever now,” he said. “It offers opportunity to create much-needed jobs in construction and retail and this project demonstrates that both The Quays and Newry remain at the premiership level of retail demand.
“This development has much wider implications as it secures the vitality of a city centre, it offers sustainability to existing retailers with the introduction of a wider critical mass and it offers hope for many in wider society that there is a light at the end of the current, dark economic tunnel.”
“Of course it will remain difficult to deliver these plans in current market conditions and impossible without certainty of demand but I am delighted to announce that with half of the space already reserved we have very good reason to be optimistic.”
The management team at The Quays has always remained positive despite economic woes on both sides of the border.
Last week Mr Attwood hinted that a number of large planning applications would soon see action.
“There are too many applications that have been lying around for too long,” he said. “They won’t be lying around for too much longer as long as I am around.”