Supermarket 'could destroy Ballymena town centre'
Councillors have been warned that if they vote in favour of a major out-of-town supermarket application tomorrow, they will be responsible for destroying Ballymena town centre.
Mid and East Antrim Council's planning committee will be the first to vote on a major out-of-town retail application since the new 'super councils' assumed power.
Planners have already rejected one proposal for the business element of an urban village outside the Co Antrim town. But yesterday, it was revealed that a revised plan for a smaller supermarket by the evangelical church behind the bid, Green Pastures, complied with planning policies.
New rules mean councillors now have the final say.
In a joint statement, Ballymena's Chamber of Commerce president Alan Stewart and Glyn Roberts, chief executive of the NI Independent Retail Trade Association, said: "This proposed out of town hypermarket is a major threat to the viability of Ballymena town centre and will displace and destroy jobs from existing retailers. It would take millions of pounds out of the town centre economy and radically reduce footfall."
They added that if the council wants Ballymena town centre to have a viable future, "then they must reject this application".