Page last updated at 09:03 GMT, Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Tesco 'biggest shop' plan refused

Tesco carrier bag
A huge Tesco superstore was planned for the out-of-town site

Plans to build the largest Tesco store in Ireland close to Banbridge have been rejected for a second time.

NI Environment Minister Edwin Poots has accepted a recommendation by the Planning Appeals Commission to block the proposals.

Tesco said the decision was "very disappointing" and it would "carefully consider" its options.

The retailing giant had wanted to build a 130,000sq ft store at the Bridgewater Park complex in County Down.

The out-of-town site, on the main A1 road between Belfast and Dublin, would have given Tesco easier access to lucrative cross-border trade.

The plans were initially turned down in 2008 and were considered again at a public inquiry in June this year.

Objectors said the development would have damaged Banbridge town centre.

'Right decision'

Tesco already have a shop in the town but were planning to close it if the Bridgewater Park store was approved.

The minister said it was a difficult decision but that if the plans had been allowed to go ahead it would have led to "a significant loss of trade" in the town centre.

Glyn Roberts of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association said it was the "right decision".

"There is no doubt that if this application had gone ahead it would have resulted in dozens of local businesses going bust and a net loss of hundreds of jobs," he said.

'Disappointed'

Gary Mills, director for Tesco in Northern Ireland, said the development would have created hundreds of jobs for Banbridge and added that the town centre shop would not have been closed immediately.

"Our commitment to retain our existing Castlewellan Road store trading for a minimum of ten years would have continued to provide strong links to the town centre from our edge-of-town location."

Banbridge District councillor, Seamus Doyle said he was "very disappointed" with the decision.

"It would have brought 600 new jobs, well-paid jobs to Banbridge, not to mention the construction jobs as well," he said.

"I think it's very short-sighted. It would have brought us probably £500,000 in rates every year."

The Tesco scheme was being backed by three property development companies: GML Estates, owned by Guernsey-based businessman John Farmer, Land Securities, a major London-based developer and Stoney Properties, owned by the Newry-based Murdock family.



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