Council's green light for £15m retail park in Holywood
The Co Down town of Holywood is set to get a new retail park, which it's hoped will attract major international brands to the town.
The £15m scheme called Front was granted planning permission by Ards and North Down Borough Council.
Developer Robinson Family Ltd is looking to attract a high-profile anchor tenant, hoped to be a major supermarket.
It's understood leading coffee chains have already shown interest in the new development.
Currently a Tesco Express is the only supermarket in the town, but in nearby Holywood Exchange, Tesco and Sainsbury's have large stores.
The complex, between Hibernia Street, Redburn Square and the Shore Road, will include above-ground car parking, and there are plans to host specialist markets and street entertainment.
Front has been a long-term project for the developers Robinson Family Limited, which had plans for the a larger development on the site before the economic crash in of 2006 to 2007 onwards.
Bill Kennedy, director at property agents, Colliers International, said: "From the outset, interest in the Front development in Holywood has been extremely positive which has encouraged the developer to remain steadfast in its commitment to the scheme during several tough economic years.
"Prudently, they have waited until the climate has improved before reinvigorating the project.
"We feel interest in Holywood from several retailers and commercial clients is growing and that the time is right now to launch this new mixed use scheme."
The affluent area has started to see renewed investment over the last year, with retailers Argento and Please Don't Tell, and Beannchor pizza chain, Little Wing, moving to Holywood in the last 12 months.
Redburn Square, next to the development, is receiving work to improve the area.
Mr Kennedy said: "The town has seen a uplift in retail space, with its high street almost 100% full.
"With public realm work under way, improving Holywood, we're providing modern space and we think it will it satisfy underlying demand," Mr Kennedy said. "Front will provide 38,000 sq ft of modern retail and commercial space that will serve to draw more high-profile names to the area, which can only be seen as a positive boost at a time when our town centres are in much need of investment."
DUP MLA Gordon Dunne said: "The proposed scheme for the mixed-use development at Front, Holywood, is an important opportunity to significantly enhance the fabric of the town.
"This is a key location both highly visible from the main Belfast to Bangor road and close to the High Street.
"With work on the public realm well under way and the Redburn Square project due to complete in 2016, the long-awaiting development of the Front site will be the final piece in the jigsaw for the town centre."
The developer also hope to add luxury flats to the site, but planning permission has yet to be sought for the addition.
Robinson Family Ltd interests the £15m include office properties, which the company said are leased to "national companies".