There has been some controversy about a planning proposal for a major supermarket store on the Doagh Road in Newtownabbey. When it came to the council planning committee earlier this week, the decision was deferred because the Department of Infrastructure had issued an Article 17 direction order to the council to enable the department to consider whether to call in the decision.
However, we do know that the company has promised 250 new full-time and part-time jobs. Now jobs are always welcome, but what consideration is being given to the jobs that will inevitably be lost elsewhere?
Very often with such developments, there is no net gain in employment. It is simply a case of displacement, with a loss of existing jobs in other places, often in smaller, locally owned businesses.
The truth is that no matter how many new superstores may open, there is a limit to the amount of money that people have in their pockets to spend and a limit to the number of tins of baked beans, or whatever else, they may buy.
The other selling-point for new out-of-town developments is that they will increase the rates base of the council. And they may - for a time.
A short-term approach will look at this and see the increase in rates' income for the council, but what is the knock-on effect on the rates' income from other businesses in the longer term, in particular shops that eventually close down?
Last year, more than 10% of all retail spaces in the United Kingdom were vacant and the figure is rising year on year.
Many times, we have seen interviews on television with the interviewees standing in streets of boarded-up shops, lamenting the decline in our high streets.
Of course, it could be argued that people don't care; they don't value high streets and town centres and they wouldn't miss them.
However, there is strong evidence to the contrary. A 2019 survey found that almost nine out of 10 shoppers would care if high streets disappeared.
Our high streets are much more than just a place for shops; they have been the centres of towns and communities for hundreds of years and they are places where you meet other people in social settings. Our society would be all the poorer without them.
Just look on Friday mornings at the people going into St George's Market in Belfast city centre; for many of them, it is as much about the social event as the food, or whatever else, they purchase.
Everyone can see the empty shops and the signs for closing-down sales and we can think of the reasons for them.
One reason is undoubtedly the growth in internet shopping and, in 2018, online retail spending was 18% of total spend - a figure that will have increased significantly during the current pandemic.
However, many people do value the opportunity to actually see and handle a product, to talk to a salesperson and compare the item with similar items they have seen and handled elsewhere. There is still a place for physical shops and town centres.
Online shopping is a national and, indeed, an international issue and very much an issue for Westminster, but there are many other factors that can be influenced at a regional Assembly level, or a council level, especially rising business rates, poor in-town parking facilities and the growth of out-of-town shopping.
There have been attempts to address the issue and, in 2011, Prime Minister David Cameron turned for advice to Mary Portas, who produced a report with 28 recommendations.
Meanwhile, at Stormont, we invested in public realm schemes to make our town centres more attractive, we created a legislative framework for business improvement districts and we encouraged "living over the shop".
However, the decline has continued. So, can I make a plea to our Assembly at Stormont and, in particular, to the Executive to make this issue of town centres a priority before it is too late?
It is not a unionist or nationalist issue and it should be possible to get cross-party agreement on a coherent and comprehensive approach.
And, in the meantime, can I appeal to planners to beware of exacerbating an already difficult situation by approving more out-of-town developments?