Retail group advises council to reject plan for out-of-town Asda in Antrim
A new Asda superstore in Co Antrim should not go ahead due to the impact it would have on smaller traders, a retail group has said.
Retail NI urged Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council to turn down the plan, citing the impact it would "have on local traders and existing retail jobs in the area".
The council planning committee is to consider the proposal in the new year.
It includes a 70,000 sq ft Asda superstore and petrol filling station on the former Nortel site in Newtownabbey.
Retail NI chief executive Glyn Roberts said it was his view that the application was "in clear breach of the current town centre-first retail planning policy (but) may be granted for short-term political reasons".
"As we have seen before with countless other out-of-town superstores, applications like these always 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.
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"These facilities will be jeopardised and job losses will occur if permission is granted.
"We would urge councillors not to be swayed by exaggerated claims of new jobs being created by this proposed store.
"Should the council vote in favour of this application, then it would make a mockery of the entire planning regime and local development plan.
"It needs to stand up for the local independent retailers and refuse this application."
The business group has also written to the Department for Infrastructure, claiming that the application has been pre-determined and will be granted for political reasons, rather than complying with planning policy and the local development plan.
It claims there are also significant roads issues which remain unresolved and about which the public and local residents are "blissfully unaware".
Retail NI said the council employed independent retail consultants Nexus Planning to examine the application. They recommended it should be refused as there is "no need for it and alternative town sites exist".
However, Retail NI claimed that the council appeared "to be looking at this proposal favourably".