Belfast Telegraph

Environment minister faces legal challenge over £25m Newry development approval

By Alan Erwin

Northern Ireland's Environment Minister is facing a legal challenge over his approval of a major mixed-used development on the outskirts of Newry.

Traders in the city have obtained leave to seek a judicial review of Mark H Durkan's decision to grant planning permission to the multi-million pound Carnbane Way scheme.

Developers The Hill Partnership are proposing to build 70 industrial and business units, a supermarket, 14 homes, a coffee shop, car parking and general landscaping on land straddling Newry River.

But the Newry Chamber of Commerce and Trade has launched a High Court bid to have the planning decision declared unlawful and quashed.

They argue that the Department of the Environment wrongly concluded the development would not damage city centre investment.

Claiming the scheme conflicts with Planning Policy Statement 5 dealing with retailing and town centres, lawyers for the body have flagged up the potential impact on the Quays Shopping Centre in Newry.

Papers filed in the case allege the Carbane Way project would prevent an approved extension to the Quays involving a £25m investment and generating up to 350 jobs.

When he granted planning permission last year Mr Durkan said he was satisfied the existing city centre retail offering was strong enough to compete with the new supermarket.

He added that the development should bring jobs and provide an economic boost for the area.

But according to the Chamber of Commerce the Department acted irrationally in the weight it gave to any economic benefits.

Further grounds of challenge include an alleged failure to comply with the Habitats Regulations in considering the potential effects of any pollution of Newry River and Canal.

As the legal action reached court the judge was told neither the Department nor the developer notice party were opposing the granting of leave to apply for a judicial review.

On that basis Mr Justice Treacy ruled that the case should proceed to a full, three-day hearing in May.

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