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Bombardier abandons proposals for major retail project in Newtownabbey

By John Mulgrew

Bombardier has withdrawn plans for a major retail development in Newtownabbey. The aerospace giant had proposed a mixed-use development that included a supermarket, filling station and industrial units on the Bombardier Aerospace site close to the Valley Leisure Centre.

A spokeswoman said: "As we continue to optimise our local operations, we are exploring opportunities to make our property assets work best for us.

"The mixed-used development application to Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council regarding our Church Road site was one such opportunity under consideration."

A number of objections had been raised.

Most of the concerns surrounded the impact to smaller businesses in the area, and that the huge out-of-town scheme would be contrary to retail strategy as part of the Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan.

Those objecting to the scheme included Hammerson (Abbey) Ltd, which owns the Abbeycentre.

It said that if the plans got the go-ahead they would "have a significant adverse impact on the vitality and viability of policy protected centres, including Abbeycentre".

Retail NI, formerly the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association, also fought the plans.

Chief executive Glyn Roberts said he was "strenuously" opposed to the "unnecessary out-of-town retailing on this site".

He outlined a revised proposal that included a 40% reduction in the foodstore element of the plans.

In a letter to council planners, Retail NI said that a "shift in consumer habits and focus on more frequent visits has been recognised", and on that basis "any foodstore proposal will derive income from smaller local convenience stores, which operate in the immediate vicinity".

At the council's planning committee last summer, members were told that "to date no end user has been identified for the supermarket element of the scheme."

Bombardier had said the planned development area focuses on the buildings once occupied by FG Wilson and Lear Fan.

Packaging firm Boxpak was another objector.

The company's factory sits on the opposite side of the road where a new roundabout was planned as part of Bombardier's scheme.

In a letter to planners at Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, the firm said it was concerned that "the new proposed roundabout is too small for the large number of 40ft container lorries and double trailer lorries" which drive in and out each day.

Bombardier's Newtownabbey site deals with customer service, maintenance and repair, and also produces composite parts, including aircraft engine nacelles.

The company employs around 5,000 people in Northern Ireland.

However, last year it slashed more than 1,000 jobs as part of global cost-cutting.

The number of people in Northern Ireland working for Bombardier

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