Residents Express Concern Over Eurospar Proposal

Residents call for impact concessions in Downpatrick Eurospar shop proposal on Ardglass Road

Residents call for impact concessions in Downpatrick Eurospar shop proposal on Ardglass Road

Residents in the St Dillon’s area of Downpatrick are concerned about the proposal being put to the Planning Committee on Wednesday 14th December 2022 to approve a retail shop unit and filling station on the site of the old St Patrick’s Primary School.

Whilst in principal they accept that the development proposed by the Henderson Group in October 2020 will create jobs and benefit shoppers in Downpatrick, they have submitted objections to the Planning Department asking for consideration on a number of counts to reduce the disturbance and inconvenience created with the Eurospar development.

The development will create 780sqm of shop floorspace, a 90sqm hot food unit, and a 3-pump island filling station, an ATM, and a jet wash with restricted use from 11pm to 7am.

The proposed Eurospar is also expected to provide a £45,000 boost for business rates revenue annually.

The one-way entrance into St Dillon’s Avenue in Downpatrick which local residents say is already facing traffic issues.

In Planning Application LA07.2020/1588/F, there are 20 objections, 13 representing 16 addresses. Also St Mary’s High School have met with the Planning Department and expressed their concerns about congestion at peak times when pupils are arriving and leaving the school on the Ardglass Road.

A further complaint was made by the Ballymote Land Centre which manages the shopping estate at Ballymote. However, the Council asked independent consultants Inaltus to consider the issues and their conclusion on the impacts of the new retail unit on the Ardglass Road.

The conclusion of Inaltus was that there was “no unacceptable adverse impacts arising and that the proposal complies with relevant planning policies.”

Cllr Gareth Sharvin has called on speaking rights to the Planning Committee on behalf of the residents in Downpatrick who may be impacted by the retail shop and filling station proposals on the Ardglass Road.
Cllr Gareth Sharvin has asked for speaking rights on behalf of the residents as the Ardglass Road Eurospar proposal goes to the Planning Committee on Wednesday 14th December.

However, the new development may ease traffic pressure on upper Edward Street with the closure of ‘Connolly’s Shop’, but the residents felt that these traffic pressures will move to other areas.

Clllr Gareth Sharvin (NEUTRAL), applied for speaking rights to the Planning Meeting on behalf of the residents.

His statement articulating the views of the residents submitted to the Planning Department said on four key issues they felt that the case for the residents needed to be considered.

However, he did recognise their acceptance of the development as fundamentally good for Downpatrick.

Cllr Sharvin said: “The number of junctions within close proximity of one another – with the proposed plans showing an exit only junction onto John Street – will result in four junctions being close to each other, increasing the risk of road safety concerns and impact on an already busy road and junction.

“The exit junction from the proposed development is at the junction into St Dillon’s Avenue and the Ardglass Road and the junction into the recently developed Downe housing estate.

“There is no road measures for crossing or slowing traffic down.

“It could also encourage cars to go up St Dillon’s Avenue which is already congested without this development.

“The residents feel that the original proposal of both entrance and exit onto the Ardglass Road would be better suited and reduce the impact on the local residential area.”

An ariel view with the four junctions on St Dillon’s Avenue marked.

Secondly, Cllr Sharvin said: “The proposed low wall and railing on the St Dillon’s Avenue side of the development will not reduce the impact of car lights onto adjoining properties.

“The addition of a hedgerow along this side to the development would not reduce the impact of light on the residential properties.”

Thirdly, Cllr Sharvin added that: “We need to consider closing off the proposed pedestrian entrance from St Dillon’s Avenue.

“The current proposal has the potential to encourage drivers to park along St Dillon’s Avenue and further increase the already challenging traffic conditions along this road.”

Lastly, he said that restriction on times for deliveries to the premises to reduce noise pollution in the area, during night hours was necessary.

“The residents accept that the likelihood of this development will go ahead is high, but feel that the above requests will reduce the impact of the development onto their properties and that they therefore ask that these conditions and improvements in relation to the development be considered.”

A local resident, who did not wish to be named, said: “The traffic situation on St Dillon’s Avenue is already at a very difficult state.

“It is extremely frustrating at the moment even before this development takes place.

“There needs to be a clear restriction of heavy lorries entering the site late in the evening as it is close to homes. There could be noise issues. I think the residents here basically support the idea of a Europspar in the town.

“The exit from the Eurospar is onto John Street – already facing traffic congestion.

“Therefore, we need a longer look at the traffic implications which could have negative impacts for the whole of the town especially the pupils and teachers and even parents who travel to school daily.”

The proposed layout of the Eurospar shop and filling station on the Ardglass Road.

The statutory consultees have now all agreed to present no objections to the development subject to general conditions being met.

The Planning Department statement supporting the proposal concluded that “the proposed development will provide a quality, modern, local shopping and service facility, a location and upgrade of the existing SPAR on Edward Street.

“It is a demonstration of private sector confidence in Downpatrick which will contribute to the sustainability of the neighbourhood through the provision of accessible, local services.

“The proposal is consistent with the local development plan and the prevailing planning policy context.

“It was been thoroughly assessed by the Council and statutory consultees over the past two years, resulting in a recommendation for approval.

“It is an investment by a local business and it is commended to the Committee for approval.”

Given the significant requests from the local residents, Councillors on the Planning Committee will meet to consider the proposal recommended for approval by the Planners. However, the last say is with the Councillors.

The Councillors can delay the decision to have another site visit, ask the planners to consider the requests from the residents, St Mary’s High School and the Ballymote Land Centre.

Given the serious traffic problems already existing in Downpatrick, the $64,000 question the residents are asking is, will this proposal add to the traffic chaos in Downpatrick ?

The next Planning Meeting by Newry Mourne and Down District Council is on Wednesday 14th December from 10am at the Council Boardroom in Monaghan Row in Newry or via Microsoft Teams (online).