Durkan blocks shopping centres in Magherafelt
Four out-of-town shopping centre applications for Magherafelt have been refused by Environment Minister Mark H Durkan.
The stores included proposals for large foodstores and were located at Moneymore Road, Castledawson Road, Thornhill Avenue and Ballyronan Road.
Mr Durkan said he didn't believe the town centre could survive another main food retailer at an out-of-town location without having a detrimental effect on existing businesses.
The Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association welcomed the decision, saying it was ludicrous that such a small town could sustain one out-of-town superstore, let alone four.
Mr Durkan said: "Magherafelt has a strong and vibrant town centre, with one of the lowest levels of retail vacancy in Northern Ireland. There is already a strong retail provision with a mix of local independent traders and main food providers. This needs to be protected which is why, after careful consideration, I am refusing all four applications."
He added: "Protecting the town centre was not my only consideration in making these decisions. Road safety, impact on the environment and residents were all significant factors."