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New Asda store a 'kick in the teeth' say retailers


Outraged: Glyn Roberts has criticised council approval for a new Asda store

Outraged: Glyn Roberts has criticised council approval for a new Asda store

Outraged: Glyn Roberts has criticised council approval for a new Asda store

A group representing independent retailers has said a decision to allow a new £17.5m Asda store in Newtownabbey is a "kick in the teeth" for nearby small shops.

Glyn Roberts, chief executive of Retail NI, said the Antrim and Newtownabbey council approval of Asda's proposal for a 40,000 sq ft superstore in Monkstown was "shameful".

He said: "This is a kick in the teeth for local independent retailers struggling with the pandemic and is not in line with the town centre first retail planning policy."

Asda said the store will bring up to 250 full and part-time jobs.

But Mr Roberts claimed experience of other stores demonstrated that out of town superstores "destroy and displace existing town centre retail jobs".

He added: "Newtownabbey has a distinctive retail environment with a significant number of local neighbourhood retailers who are the lifeblood of the community."

Mr Roberts claimed out of town retail development had contributed to a high shop vacancy rate in Northern Ireland, adding: "Given that our high streets are facing a very uncertain future, granting permission for another out-of-town superstore is the very last thing they need."

He said local shops "reduce the need for travel and promote social interaction for the elderly members of the community".

"They are the lifeblood of neighbourhoods and must be robustly protected."

A spokesman for the council said: "The council is content that the recently approved planning application for Asda was subject to a rigorous assessment over the last two years which culminated in the detailed planning report available on the council's website. The application was not only scrutinised at the recent planning committee meeting, but was also subject to a pre-determination hearing which afforded additional opportunity to all interested parties to put forward their views on the proposal."

He said the report showed all considerations had been taken on board, including the 'town centre first' policy.

"The committee took account of all representations made and was satisfied that a demonstrable need for the food store had been established, and that the retail impact of the proposal overall would be acceptable."

Belfast Telegraph