THE Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) has expressed concern that the proposed ‘Economic Zone’ amendments to the Planning Bill being put forward in the Assembly on Monday (24 June) could be used to push through more unsustainable out-of-town superstore developments to the detriment of Town Centres.
Glyn Roberts NIIRTA Chief Executive said: “NIIRTA is not opposed to planning applications which have a sustainable economic benefit to be given special consideration – but not at the expense of town centres or independent retailers.[caption id="attachment_34929" align="alignleft" width="240"] Glynn Roberts, NIIRTA Chief Executive, is concerned at new planning regulations being used to allow out-of-town shopping developments to progress more freely.[/caption]
“We have real concerns that these amendments could be used to steamroll more unsustainable out of town superstore applications which will further damage our already struggling town and city centres.
“While not the sole reason, unrestricted out-of-town retail development in recent years is a major factor in Northern Ireland having double the UK national average of town centre shop vacancies. More out of town retail development is the very last thing our town centres needs at this time.”
“All the independent evidence shows that out of town superstores do not create any long term jobs but in fact leads to a net loss of existing retail jobs, the closure of local shops and town centre dereliction.
“We are also concerned that no apparent consultation has taken place on these amendments and would urge that they are withdrawn and for immediate discussions with key stakeholders to take place,” added Mr Roberts.]]>