Page last updated at 11:50 GMT, Thursday, 29 April 2010 12:50 UK

Row erupts over Omagh development

The Christian Brothers own the land on the right of the picture
The Christian Brothers own the land on the right of the picture

The Christian Brothers have questioned a planning application by one Northern Ireland's biggest property developers for a piece of land in Omagh.

Sam Morrison's company, Corbo, lodged a planning application for a £200m shopping centre in the town last week.

However, the company has still to buy two playing fields required for building.

The Christian Brothers own the land and said they were not consulted over the application and will not now sell.

A spokesperson for Corbo said they were "surprised" commercial agents acting on behald of the Christian Brothers had written to the Planning Service expressing that view.

Last week the company's chief executive, Stephen Kirkpatrick, said they had had "detailed discussions with the church bodies that own the two playing fields".

On Thursday the Corbo spokesperson said they would be "seeking clarification on these issues".

Gerard O'Hanlon, the president of the Omagh Chamber of Commerce says he hopes both parties can resolve their differences.

"When the shopping centre was announced for the Scotts Mills site and the playing fields the businesses in Omagh town centre were very excited about it," he said.

"It would be good to see that development, it would be good to secure business for the town centre and making Omagh a vibrant town centre and maintaining jobs."

Corbo, who developed the Showgrounds Retail Park in the town, said the scheme would create up to 800 jobs in the construction phase, with more that 1,500 new jobs created on completion of the scheme.

The development would include a major food store and an 800,000 sq ft shopping mall with a seven screen cinema and bowling alley.

Corbo owner Sam Morrison is one of Northern Ireland's wealthiest property developers - his properties include the Fair Hill Centre in Ballymena and Cityside Retail Park in Belfast.



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