Belfast Telegraph

Ulster retailers furious at new Asda store plan

Over 200 Londonderry retailers, who say they are employing over 2,500 staff and paying more than £2m in rates, have protested against plans to build a new Asda store on the city's Waterside.

Derry City Council recently approved plans by the supermarket giant to build a new store at the out-of-town Crescent Link site.

The firm said up to 350 new full and part-time jobs would be created at the 40,000 sq ft supermarket.

Asda said it hoped to have a decision from Planning Service early next year.

Martin McCrossan of the City Centre Traders and Business Forum in Derry said he was "sad" to see that councillors in the city said that opponents of the scheme "must be faced down".

"As someone who has nothing but respect for our councillors, we have to say they do appear to have completely missed the point of our objections," he said.

"What we do not want is Asda and Sainsbury's on the Crescent Link.

"No one is against jobs coming to the town. In fact, our spokesman is on record saying we are not against the multiples.

"All the councillors say they want to help the retailers in the city centre and Waterside. Our suggestion is to bring these big retailers into the centre.

"This would bring competition, increased rates to the council and immediately regenerate the city centre.

"We find it interesting that over 200 retailers, employing several thousand staff and paying millions of pounds in rates to the council, think Crescent Link is the wrong place, but our councillors don't.

"Most of the business academics and the whole of the UK and Ireland are trying to stop the multiples killing town centres but our councillors finally unite on a rare occasion to do the opposite."

The Londonderry row comes in the wake of a long-running dispute involving Belfast city retailers who object to plans to build a John Lewis store and 19 other business units at Sprucefield.

The proposed out-of-town development, which will cost £150m to build and generate 2,000 new jobs, has drawn criticism from Belfast Lord Mayor Pat Convery, who said: "The reality is Belfast and other town centres will be considerably less attractive to future private sector investment if permission for the Sprucefield development is granted."