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Business park plans hang on approval for giant Tesco

The fate of a multi-million pound investment which could create up to 1,500 jobs hangs in the balance, the developers behind Bridgewater Park have warned.

Approved plans for a retail warehouse park and a light industry business park on the outskirts of Banbridge could be shelved if the go-ahead is not given for a Tesco superstore at the site.

The overall £200m investment is already home to The Outlet, which defied the economic downturn to report record sales at Christmas, largely attributed to shoppers from the Republic.

Planners last year turned down the application for the 130,000 sq ft Tesco store, which would create an additional 600 jobs at Bridgewater Park.

However, the developers have now lodged an appeal which will be heard by the Planning Appeals Commission on June 29.

The hearing will be attended by representatives from a number of business groups who are opposing the application, claiming it will decimate Banbridge town centre.

Banbridge Chamber of Commerce, the Ulster Chemists’ Association, the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association and the Federation of Small Businesses have jointly launched the ‘Save Banbridge Town Centre’ Campaign.

A spokesman for Bridgewater Park, a joint development by Land Securities Group and GML Estates, said: “In the current difficult economic times, it is really hard to understand how anyone can seek to prevent an investment of £200m and the potential to create over 1,500 jobs or even to see these benefits being diverted away from Banbridge.”

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment figures this month revealed that Banbridge District Council area has witnessed the fourth biggest rise in dole claimants in Northern Ireland over the past year with a 131.3% increase.

Rosin McAleenan, president of the Banbridge Chamber of Commerce said: “As we have said on many occasions, this is not about Tesco — it is about the proposed location of the store which is out of town and would cause commercial and retail devastation to Banbridge Town Centre.”

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