RESPONDING to last month’s announcement by the Minister of the Environment that he has recommended approval of the planning application for the foodstore at Bridgewater Park, a spokesman representing the developers said, “This is fantastic news for Banbridge – it has been long awaited, many people have worked very hard over many years to reach this point but in the end the right decision for Banbridge has been made.
“Bridgewater Park is a unique site in a fantastic location – it’s already drawing customers to Banbridge from all over the province and across the border, sustaining nearly 500 jobs at the Outlet.
“This permission will now see this situation reinforced and developed, to an anticipated level of about 2000 jobs on the site. Most immediately we will see about 200 jobs for the construction sector followed by 400 to 500 jobs delivered in the new Tesco store within two years.
“It’s an opportunity to buck all of the current economic trends and really put Banbridge on the map. The A1 is Banbridge’s key economic driver and this scheme will see it start to deliver for the town.”
The developers recently commissioned an Economic Study by Oxford Economics which demonstrated that Bridgewater when complete could sustain over 2,000 jobs and annual salaries in excess of £40 million per year, much of that money being spent and recirculated in the local economy in local shops and businesses.
“This positive decision by government will hopefully send out a strong message to any other potential investors considering investment in Northern Ireland and may start to change the perception that Northern Ireland is a risky place to invest,” added the spokesman.
As part of the proposals, the developers said they had sought to work with and maximize benefits for the town centre.
“Community feedback has been overwhelmingly in favour of the proposals and the benefits the scheme will deliver,” he said. “Many people in the community will I am sure be equally delighted at the news; especially those looking forward either to the prospect of new local job opportunities or those who see the proposals as vital to safeguarding existing employment in the town.
“I would like to thank all of those in the local community who have supported the scheme and stuck with it through the prolonged planning process; also the local MP, David Simpson and those key councillors whose voices have been at the forefront of the community effort.
“We strongly believe that Bridgewater Park will now move forward and will deliver really significant economic benefits for the town, drawing in visitors, sustaining jobs and salaries, stopping spending leakage to Lisburn, Newry and Craigavon and importantly, boosting spending in local shops and businesses.
“This is not the end of the process but very much the start of a new process, of securing further investment and jobs for Banbridge. We will want to continue to work in partnership with the Council, the town centre and the community to ensure the full potential of the opportunity is delivered.”