Objections to proposal for new Enniskillen retail and leisure complex
Plans to turn a former pork factory site in Enniskillen into a new mixed retail and leisure complex have been met with several objections.
The proposal includes five retail units with two garden centres, one indoor adventure play unit, coffee shop, drive-thru restaurant and a self-service pay at the pump petrol station.
There would also be a 54-bedroom hotel, a 287-seat multi-screen cinema and an eight-lane bowling alley.
The huge 18,000-sq-ft complex would be built at the former Unipork factory in the town and would include 695 car parking spaces.
Elm Grange Limited, with a listed address in Moy, Co Tyrone, has submitted the application.
But residents and business owners have lodged objections, citing fears that it would "damage our already struggling town centre".
One business owner suggested the site would serve the community better by building attractive houses for first time buyers or social housing.
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Another questioned if a new retail and leisure complex was needed given the area is already served by a town centre and the Ernside Shopping Centre. "The current shopping centre has empty shops, some of which have not been leased for over a year," she said.
"We used to have a busy and locally owned town centre until Erneside was developed and whilst innovation is a good thing we now resemble every other town centre. It is the local retailers who provide a difference.
"Our town has many unique qualities and a great sense of community - these would be lost with the development of a new shopping centre."
Another town centre business owner said there are "ample opportunities for businesses in the centre due to unoccupied premises". He also questioned the need for a cinema when "numbers are declining in every cinema in the UK and the one we have is a modern, well-equipped facility struggling to survive".
Despite the objections the planning statement notes that the "local community were in favour of the proposed mixed use development" during the public consultation.
It adds that it "meets the identified needs of Enniskillen in terms of more retail and leisure floorspace and provides significant volumes of employment which matches the working needs of the local community".
The plans also describe the site as an "ideal commercial location" that benefits from "excellent visual prominence and is easily accessible to customers travelling to Enniskillen from the north, east and south east".
It estimates there would be 263 employees attending the complex every day, using 105 vehicles. Other visitor numbers are estimated at 3,864 a day.
The application said that access to the new complex would be from Cornagrade Road and Irvinestown Road, while landscaping, retaining walls and associated site works would also be needed.
The Unipork factory closed in April 2000 with reports at the time estimating 200 job losses.
Another out of town development in Newry was recently denied planning permission after objections from town centre retailers and trade bodies such as Retail NI.