Belfast Telegraph

Conway Group retail complex bid sparks residents' fury

By Calre Weir

A war of words has erupted over plans for a retail complex in a Co Londonderry town - one of the last not to be served by a major supermarket chain.

The Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association said it joined Magherafelt residents and DUP councillors in a meeting with Environment Minister Edwin Poots to oppose the plans.

The Conway Group has proposed the food store and filling station for Moneymore Road, which it says represents an investment of £17m and 200 jobs.

Paul Stewart, NIIRTA president and Magherafelt trader, and John Clayton, spokesman for the Magherafelt residents, led the joint delegation. "Both our organisations are opposed to this application as it directly threatens Magherafelt town centre and will cause disruption to a residential area," said NIIRTA.

"We want to be very clear - we are not opposed to any of the UK multiples coming to the town centre - in fact they would be welcome. Our concern is the location."

However, commercial property expert Stephen Deyermond of Belfast firm TDK said that such a development would have its place in the town.

"Local shops can complement the bigger supermarkets and each has its own place within the retail hierarchy and provides different functions," he said.