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Friday, 1 September, 2000, 11:51 GMT 12:51 UK
Judge axes 80m shopping complex
The High Court has quashed the plans
The High Court has quashed the plans
Planning permission for what would have been Northern Ireland's biggest ever retail park has been quashed for the second time.

A major 80m shopping centre and leisure complex was planned for a 54 acre site, known as D5, on Belfast's Harbour Estate, in the east of the city.

However, a High Court judge axed the project on Friday and criticised the authorities for allowing the project to go-ahead in the first place.

It is the latest development in a long running saga which has seen planning permission twice granted, and then rescinded.

The project was given the go-ahead by the Department of Environment, but that was overturned last July, following a legal challenge by Belfast City Council and the Chamber of Trade.

Belfast City Council and the Chamber of Trade had claimed that the project would hit retailers and destroy jobs in the existing shopping centres.

The judge said that the then minister, Lord Dubs, had not been provided with all the advice available on the impact of the plans.


It is great news for traders in Belfast, Holywood and Dundonald

Frank Caddy

Concern had also been expressed about the likely adverse impact on the vitality of local shopping areas in Holywood, Connswater and Dundonald.

But following a re-application by the developers, the then economic development minister George Howarth re-granted permission during the brief period when the assembly was suspended last year.

The D5 developers - Aquis Estates, Anglia Ltd., and Belfast Harbour Commissioners - claimed the scheme would have provided 1,200 jobs.

It was to include a Sainsbury food superstore, huge retail warehouses and a large leisure complex containing an 18-screen cinema.

Effect on trading

In his 37-page reserved judgement on Friday, Mr Justice Coghlin criticised the planning authorities for not carrying out an up to date "health check" on the effect of trading in surrounding areas before granting planning permission.

The judge said the failure "almost verges on arrogance, particularly in respect of the citizens of Holywood".

If this development had been permitted, the heart would have been torn out of the shopping centre of Belfast

Jim Rodgers

His decision was welcomed by Frank Caddy, chief executive of Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce, which brought the case along with the City Council and North Down Borough Council.

Mr Caddy said: "It is great news for traders in Belfast, Holywood and Dundonald.

"It means we can approach the future with confidence and at the same time draw a line under the many out of town developments which have taken place in recent years."

Jim Rodgers, chairman of Belfast council's development committee has also welcomed the decision.

"If this development had been permitted, the heart would have been torn out of the shopping centre of Belfast," he said.

A Department of the Environment spokesperson said the judgement would be considered in consultation with legal advisers before any further statement would be made.

It is possible that the developers may apply yet again for permission.

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