Belfast Telegraph

Hope for stalled Northern Ireland retail park as new developer buys Down site

By John Mulgrew

A major Co Down site due to be transformed into a £250m retail development has been sold to a company that has property developer Frank Boyd as a director, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

It had been planned that Castlebawn in Newtownards would feature a huge 300,000sq ft shopping centre, retail and business units and car showrooms across a total of 75 acres.

But just a small area, including a Tesco store, was developed before Castlebawn Ltd went into administration.

Loans relating to the business were taken over by the Republic's 'bad bank' Nama in 2010, before being sold on to vulture fund Cerberus.

It's now understood Castlebawn Newtownards Ltd is purchasing the site, with plans to finally redevelop the area.

It's believed the sale has been agreed and will be completed later this month.

Mr Boyd is a director of several other companies including Brunswick (No 1) Ltd and Alfred Street Properties Ltd, formerly Killultagh Estates.

The latter owns the Connswater Shopping Centre and retail park in east Belfast.

No one from Castlebawn Newtownards Ltd was available for comment. The project, which dates back to 2005, was to include a shopping centre, business park, hotel and care home.

But the company went into administration around two years ago. However, the first phase of the development was completed, with Tesco, Home Bargains and Matalan among the stores now occupying the site.

Further work was planned to link the retail park with Newtownards town centre.

KPMG was appointed as administrator to Castlebawn, with EY taking over the role in April this year.

The administrator's latest report, released in August, stated that Castlebawn owed more than £16m to Promontoria Eagle Limited (PEL), a Dublin-registered company that was used to buy the Project Eagle portfolio in June 2014.

Just last week it was revealed that fresh plans had also been put forward to transform a disused factory in Newtownards across from the Castlebawn site into a new 44-home development.

The former Irish Tapestry Building on South Street has been derelict for several years.

And in November the Belfast Telegraph revealed the Sirocco site in the east of the city - due to be developed in a £300m project - is finally being sold to a new UK buyer.

It's understood that the St Francis Group is designing a master plan for the huge site, and, alongside two other investors, is about to complete a deal to take on the huge 16-acre plot.

Belfast Telegraph