Belfast Telegraph

£200m Derry retail plan that promises 2,800 jobs poised for green light

By Donna Deeney

The go-ahead for a shops development which will create 1,000 construction jobs with a further 1,800 permanent positions to follow upon completion is just weeks away.

Planning permission is thought to be imminent for the £200m complex at Crescent Link retail park in the Waterside area of Londonderry.

A masterplan to transform Crescent Link was unveiled for the £7m site bought by GSB Guernsey Trading Limited for a Sainsbury’s superstore, petrol station, six-screen cinema, several multi-storey office blocks, a three-storey healthcare facility, residential property, 769 parking spaces and other retail outlets.

Work has already begun on a Premier Inn which was included in the original plans submitted by the company.

Foyle MLA William Hay who has played a central role in bringing the developer to the Waterside says it will give some employment hope to people in the city, a day after it was revealed that more than 2,300 people had applied for just 14 jobs at a furniture store due to open next week.

“There are a number of applications with the minister Alex Attwood, including an application I have been very involved in, which will create 1,000 new construction jobs and 1,800 full-time positions which marks an investment of £200m by this particular company which has already showed its commitment by purchasing a site for £7m.

“Keeping our young people in the city should be our priority, there is a serious problem of emigration and it is our responsibility to give hope to them that will allow them to stay.”

A decision on this and several other major developments on both sides of the River Foyle was expected to come from the Minister of the Environment last month, however in a statement to the North West Telegraph, he said it will now be made at the end of July.

Mr Attwood said: “In relation to Derry retail applications there are seven that have to be decided.

“I had planned to be in Derry in early July to announce the outcome but there has been a short delay due to the number of decisions, retail impact assessments and other factors.

“I am advised that Derry applications will be presented to me on or immediately after my return from holidays on July 28.

“I am sure people and retailers in Derry will appreciate that there can be good reasons for delay and in this case a short one. It is my plan to go to Derry, to confirm the outcome of the planning process, place my planning decisions in the context of the development of the city, the needs of the citizens and city centre retailers.

“It is important that in recognising the importance that out of town/edge of town retail decisions have to Derry (and other locations), that the prescription for the growth of town and city centres has a range of elements, beyond Article 31 planning decisions.

“That said, I have made it clear I shall be bringing forward in the future new proposals to reconfigure retail provision and to better acknowledge in town needs,” Mr Attwood said.

“I hope Derry people will appreciate that a short delay of a few weeks is required to ensure I get the decisions right,” the minister added.

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