Belfast could get new Lidl as planners make U-turn
Planners have reversed the refusal of a new Lidl supermarket for east Belfast.
Belfast City Council had recommended rejection for the proposed 23,000sq ft development at Connswater despite support from the shopping centre and traders in the area.
It has now recommended that the store gets the green light at next week's planning committee meeting.
Connswater, one of Northern Ireland's oldest shopping centres, has been struggling to find a big-name retailer to fill the void left by its two former anchor tenants, Tesco and Dunnes.
The council said that "in view of the further legal advice provided by the town solicitor and the opinion of the director of planning and place," it was recommending the store goes ahead, subject to conditions including work beginning within a five-year period and that the store's size must not exceed 2,208 sq m.
Planners originally gave a number of reasons for their refusal. Their primary concern was the availability of vacant sites, such as the former Tesco and Dunnes buildings at Connswater, and vacant sites at the Park Centre in west Belfast and at Forestside in the south of the city, as well as at other centres.
The council received three letters backing the application, including one from East Belfast DUP MP Gavin Robinson.
The agent behind the scheme previously claimed the new store would create 10 jobs and bring around £2.5m of investment.