THE refusal of a planning application for Asda in Banbridge town centre has raised a serious question over the decision to allow a Tesco store to be built at Bridgewater Park.
That is the feeling of Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association Chief Executive Glyn Roberts, who said the decisions do not tally.
While Mr Roberts welcomed the application’s rejection last week by Environment Minister Alex Attwood, he questioned the previous Minister’s decision to approve the Tesco development.
“On balance I think this was the right decision to reject this store (Asda) as it would have had a detrimental impact on traffic, local residents and the town centre,” said Mr Roberts.
“However the refusal of this edge of town application raises a serious question - why did the Department give planning permission to a massive out-of-town Tesco application at Bridgewater but reject this smaller store which is closer to the town centre?
“Surely the huge out of town Tesco hypermarket will have an even more serious impact on Banbridge Town Centre?”
The NIIRTA boss said the two decisions outline the need for a new planning policy to be drawn up to ensure applications are looked at on a fair basis.
“In the light of this decision it will be interesting to see what decisions Minister Attwood makes in other out of town superstore applications in Derry, Magherafelt, Strabane and Newry”
“There seems to be little or no continuity in DoE Retail Planning decisions and this underlines the need for new planning policy which supports town centre retailing, rather than unsustainable out of town retail stores.”