Approximately 400 jobs are to be created in Newtownards after plans were approved for a new Tesco food superstore at the Castlebawn Development.
Environment Minister Edwin Poots approved the plans which will see the creation of 200 retail jobs, a further creation of 200 construction jobs and a total investment of £18 million.
Minister Poots said the new food store would help “rejuvenate the area of the former Ards Abattoir, bringing not only a modern food and convenience goods outlet, but also much needed economic investment”.
“This approval will provide construction jobs along with the £18m investment in the immediate future, and secure some 200 permanent retail jobs,” Minister Poots said.
“This is another fine example of what can be gained from engaging in pre-application discussions where key issues can be identified at an early stage allowing the application to pass through the statutory planning process quickly.”
Gary Mills, director for Tesco in Northern Ireland, said his company was “delighted” with the news.
“We are delighted that this store, which will bring with it up to 200 new high-quality, flexible jobs for Newtownards, has been given approval,” Mr Mills said.
“It is also excellent news for the construction industry as this development will create employment for around 200 people in the building trade over a 12-18 month period, which I imagine will be welcome news for the industry in the run-up to Christmas.
“We are grateful to Planning Service and the Minister as we know that a planning application for a store this size is a huge piece of work, and we appreciate the speed at which this development has been processed through the pre-application route which has resulted in this very welcome approval.”
The application site forms part of the overall Castlebawn Development, which currently has planning approval for a mixed use development including retail warehousing, leisure and business park, car parking, new road infrastructure and a pedestrian access to the development from Court Street.
Councillor Simon Hamilton said: “The creation of hundreds of jobs both during construction and after completion is a much needed boost to our local economy at this time,” he said.
“We already have a unique independent retail offering in Newtownards and I hope that this and other potential developments will serve to place Newtownards firmly on the map as a quality retail destination in Northern Ireland.”