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Tesco store gets thumbs down from planners

Plans to build a Tesco supermarket close to a Co Antrim seaside town have suffered a setback after planners recommended against giving the store planning permission.

Planners said giving the Leyland Road store the go-ahead would damage the "vitality" of Ballycastle town centre and undermine convenience shopping in the area.

While Ballycastle has a Eurospar and Co-op supermarket, it lacks one of the 'big three' supermarket operators.

But now the planners have recommended that Moyle Council refuses planning permission for the application.

Padraig McShane, an independent councillor in the town, said he was against Tesco getting planning permission for the edge -of-town development.

He added: "Consumers in Ballycastle have said they want more choice which I am in support of.

"That's why I support a big supermarket being located inside the town centre. But granting this Tesco application would kill the town centre."

But Martin McCormick, a taxi driver in the town, who has campaigned in favour of Tesco, said he was disappointed by the decision and that the majority of the people in Ballycastle wanted Tesco in Leyland Road.

"We are hoping now that the councillors will support us," he said.

"We are in favour of this because we think it will bring more business into Ballycastle."

The Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) and Ballycastle Chamber of Commerce welcomed the planners' recommendation. NIIRTA Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said: "If this store had gone ahead, it would have resulted in the closure of a number of family-owned town centre businesses and the net loss of over 100 jobs.

"The place for such store development should be in a town centre location rather than in unsustainable out-of-town locations.

"We hope that Moyle Council will also give their support to this decision."

Paul Cochrane, chairman of the Ballycastle Chamber of Commerce, said: "We hope Tesco will use this opportunity to engage with the local business community and bring a Tesco Express to the town centre, which would add to the overall retail offer of Ballycastle."

Tesco was not available for comment.

The multiple employs nearly 9,000 people in 48 outlets in Northern Ireland and recently secured planning permission for a hypermarket at Bridgewater Park outside Banbridge town in Co Down.