Belfast Telegraph

Planners reverse proposal to refuse Lidl store for Connswater in east Belfast

By John Mulgrew

Planners have reversed a controversial proposal to refuse the go ahead for a new Lidl supermarket in east Belfast.

Belfast City Council planners had recommended refusal for the 23,000sq ft development at Connswater despite support from the shopping centre and traders in the area.

But they are now recommending the store gets the green light during next week's planning committee meeting.

One of Northern Ireland's oldest shopping centres, Connswater has been struggling to find another big name retailer to fill the void left by its two anchor tenants, Tesco and Dunnes.

Now, the council says that “in view of the further legal advice provided by the town solicitor” and the “opinion of the Director of Planning and Place” it now recommends the store goes ahead, subject to conditions.

That includes a range of typical issues, such as work beginning within a five-year period and that the store must not exceed 2,208 square metres.

Planners had originally given a number of reasons for their recommendation, their primary concern was the availability of vacant sites such as the former Tesco and Dunnes buildings at Connswater, and vacant sites at the Park Centre in west Belfast and at Forestside in south Belfast, as well as at other shopping centres

The council received three letters backing the application, including one from East Belfast DUP MP Gavin Robinson.

The agent behind the Lidl scheme previously claimed the new store would create 10 jobs and bring around £2.5m of investment.

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