Out-of-town superstore plans refused

Out-of-town superstore plans refused

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan has refused applications for four out-of-town supermarkets near Magherafelt in Co Londonderry.

Plans had been submitted for developments on the Moneymore Road, Castledawson Road, Thornhill Avenue and Ballyronan Road.Mr Durkan said he made the decision to refuse them because he felt they could have a negative impact on trade in the "strong and vibrant" town centre."There is already a Tesco operating outside the town centre and I believe the town centre could not survive another main food retailer at an out of centre location without having a detrimental impact on existing businesses," the SDLP minister explained."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."The Department of the Environment said there had been a "high level" of opposition to the plans for the four retail developments, but it also received letters of support.It said it consulted with a number of statutory bodies including DRD Roads Service over the issue.Mr Durkan continued: "These decisions announced today are all shaping a planning system that delivers for business but not at the expense of our environment, planet or people."A system that builds a better environment and a stronger economy."A statement from the NI Independent Retail Trade Association welcomed the news.Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said: "This is good news not just for independent retailers in Magherafelt, but for its town centre as a whole. It was simply ludicrous that such a small town could possibly sustain one out-of -own superstore, never mind four."Magherafelt town centre should be the top priority for future retail development as it still has a challenge with shop vacancy rates."It is vital that independent and multiple retailers work together on this."

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