DRD Minister Danny Kennedy paid a visit to Ballynahinch at the request of the Ballynahinch area councilors who wanted to present further suggestions to him on vital town improvements.
This meeting has followed DOE Minister Alex Attwood’s decision last week (13 December) to turn down a major superstore application on the outskirts of Ballynahinch.
Councillor Anne McAleenan, chairperson of the Down District Council Councillors Group, said: “Minister Kennedy was very sympathetic to our position and has invited us up to Stormont to talk about our proposals further. We explained that as the Street Scape Scheme unfolds soon, it would have more impact if the roads in the town were also resurfaced at the same time.
“The Minister didn’t promise us the funding to get the resurfacing completed, but we are very hopeful that this meeting will have a positive outcome.
“We did explain too that we have been liaising with the various public utilities such as NIE, BT and NI Water in future proofing this scheme.
“Ballynahinch is a town facing considerable difficulties in urban regeneration, business and traffic congestion, and these measures will help improve the trading environment for local businesses and make the town more attractive for shoppers.”
Speaking on DOE Minister Attwood’s recent decision to finally turn down the TESCO planning application for a site on the Belfast Road site in Ballynahinch, she said: “We have had a number of discussions recently with TESCO and we are looking at possible options for sites. If a major supermarket is to come to Ballynahinch it needs to be located near the centre. We are engaged in a process at the moment and hopefully this will develop into something positive. We have been looking at a location beside the current Ballynahinch Leisure centre site and other options. And we are trying to involve community groups in this development process.”
Councillor Mickey Coogan said: “This is a very important time for our traders as we try and create the right trading environment for the future. We are living in very hard times and our local business community has had a tough time and hopefully these wide range of improvements and developments will make a crucial difference to the town when they all come to fruition.”
The President of Ballynahinch Chamber of Commerce, Mark Murnin, has welcomed the ministerial decision to refuse planning permission saying: “The decision to rurn down the proposed Tesco site on the edge of Ballynahinch is another opportunity for the town to look at its planning. The Chamber believes that a large supermarket would benefit the town in the proper location near the centre of Ballynahinch. It would create much needed footfall and have a beneficial knock on effect to the local retail sector.
“We believe also that the investment from the Public Realm Scheme will lead to a greater interest in Ballynahinch for new business opportunities.”
However, UKIP Down District representative Alan Lewis has subsequently condemned Minister Attwood’s decision not to grant planning permission for a superstore in Ballynahinch.
He said: “Minister Attwood has approved developments in other major in places such as Newry, yet has turned down development in Ballynahinch.
“Ballynahinch needs major investment including a by-pass and new retail development to inject new life into the town. This has been a blow for job opportunities, local shoppers and retail development within Ballynahinch.”
Attwood refuses Ballynahinch Out of Town Development
Environment Minister Alex Attwood has refused planning permission for a food superstore on a site at Belfast Road, Ballynahinch.
The application proposed the re-development of an out-of-centre site involving the demolition of existing buildings and the erection of a 3,175 square metre food superstore.
This is another ‘Article 31’ (major planning application), one in an ongoing series of large planning announcements being made by the Minister. Minister Alex Attwood said: “After careful consideration and interrogation of all of the issues I have decided to refuse this application. “The retail impact of this proposal would be too great on the long term future of Ballynahinch Town Centre which is critical to the health and vitality of the town as a whole.
“It is clearly contrary to Planning Policy Statement 5 Retailing and Town Centres and is therefore unacceptable. I am constantly seeking to identify job opportunities but these must be sustainable and not at the cost of town centre traders. This application has been in the planning system since 2007. It was agreed in August 2010 that the application undetermined, would be held until the applicant/landowner was able to bring forward a new and acceptable scheme for the site through discussions with planning officials.
The Minister added: “It was time to call this application as I believe it is important to bring a greater degree of certainty for all involved – landowners, investors, business people and the communities of Ballynahinch. “As with all major planning applications I am making decisions after careful consideration of the individual merits of each case.
“This decision further demonstrates my determination to clear the backlog, make decisions and see a planning system more fit to achieve its purpose.”
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Planning application R/2007/0853/F was received by the Department on 10 August 2007. The application proposed a 3,175sqm gross food superstore with amendments to the access to/from the Belfast Road, with associated car parking and landscaping.