Belfast Telegraph

Newry council is urged to block plan for £50m out-of-town retail park

By Mark McConville

Businesses in Newry have urged Newry, Mourne and Down Council to reject a proposal for a £50m out-of-town retail park in Carnbane.

Newry BID (business improvement district), Newry Chamber of Commerce and Retail NI made the plea as the council is set to consider the planning application tomorrow.

The plans, which have been recommended for refusal by planning officers, will have the "highest retail capacity and impact" in Northern Ireland, opponents said.

The application, combined with the retail floor space of the food superstore, amounts to a total of 22,653 sq m gross retail floor space, which is larger than Sprucefield Park in Lisburn. The £50m development at Carnbane, which would create more than 400 jobs, is being proposed by Damolly Developments.

Eamonn Connolly, managing director of the Newry BID, said its scale would "destroy the heart of Newry". "At a time when town and city centres are under huge pressure it makes no sense for councillors to approve a massive development that their own professional officials recommend for refusal for good reason," he added.

"We trust councillors will listen to the community and acknowledge that Newry is not big enough for two cities."

Retail NI chief executive Glyn Roberts insisted that the retail park would be a "competing city centre, drawing away jobs, retailers, hospitality, shoppers" and cause "incalculable damage" to Newry city centre.

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"If local councillors are committed to seeing a vibrant 21st century Newry city centre then they must oppose this job-threatening application," he said.

Newry Chamber chief executive Colm Shannon added that the proposal would "undermine the future of our city centre".

Damolly Developments said the Newry City Retail Park proposal will enhance the expansion of the city centre rather than compete with it.

"Newry City is on a growth path which will see it developing within the agreed area plan," a statement added.

"Among the new developments in Newry's expanding city are a new civic centre, health hub, multi-storey car park and hotel. These are earmarked as part of the city centre extension strategy.

"Newry City Retail Park will encourage this growth by creating a much needed second stage development to the city's retail offer."

Belfast Telegraph