New plans have been unveiled today for ‘The OUTLET’ at Outlet Park, Banbridge, to secure the centre’s existing 500 jobs and create an additional 200 full and part-time positions.
The proposals include plans for a change of use for part of the centre and a consolidation of the retail offering. This will enable ‘The OUTLET’ to accommodate a regional eight screen cinema complex that meets modern projection standards, a 7,000 sqft children’s indoor play area, two additional restaurants, and, in a second phase, a garden centre.
The change-of-use proposals for ‘The OUTLET’ will facilitate investments totalling £6m - £8m by new leisure operators. This will bring ‘The OUTLET’s’ leisure offering into line with similar UK centres which have increased their leisure element to around a third to meet changing customer expectations. A separate planning application for a McDonald’s drive-through restaurant was submitted in December.
The Lotus Group, Banbridge, has been appointed to submit the planning application for the repositioning of the centre. Alastair Coulson, Director of Asset Management, Lotus Group, said: “Our research demonstrates that visitors expect a mix and vibrancy of uses for what is often a family day out. This is something we can offer by consolidating the retail offering and introducing a leisure element to the scheme to create a family friendly destination.
“The OUTLET already has excellent links with Banbridge town centre and we are confident that this change of use will inject a new energy into the project which will secure the jobs of 500 local people and create up to 200 more. We have already seen the success that W5 Lite and new restaurants have brought to the centre, and the new proposals will build upon those successes to help safeguard ‘The OUTLET’s’ future.”
Paul Anderson from Omniplex Cinemas, which will operate the proposed new cinema, said: “Omniplex is delighted to be part of the redevelopment of ‘The OUTLET’. As part of Omniplex Group’s ongoing expansion plans we have identified a need in the Banbridge area for a regional cinema with extensive on-site parking and complementary food and beverage offerings.
“This proposal offers a fantastic opportunity for the provision of a cinema complex that will facilitate a £3m investment by Omniplex and create in the region of 40-50 jobs. It will also offer the latest technical digital projection standards and blockbuster releases to attract people from a catchment area stretching from Newry to Lisburn.”
Alastair Coulson added: “The proposed changes will ensure that ‘The OUTLET’s’ offer will be different to any current local offering and will attract visitors into Banbridge from a much wider area. It’s expected that the new Omniplex alone will attract over 300,000 visitors annually.
“The changes will bring ‘The OUTLET’s’ offer into line with other successful centres in Great Britain and Ireland, and significantly reduce the current vacancy rate to just 10%. This will markedly improve customers’ experience and help ‘The OUTLET’ re-establish its reputation as one of the island’s leading retail destinations.
“Subject to planning it is expected that the new scheme could be completed in early 2015.”
Cllr Jim McElroy said: “It is tremendous to see such a significant investment into the area, creating jobs and improving the current retail and leisure offerings. I hope that through this expansion The Outlet will attract more people from the wider areas, putting Banbridge firmly on the map as a top shopping and leisure destination”.
Cllr Seamus Doyle said: “I am delighted to hear that an eight screen cinema complex, a children’s play area along with two new restaurants are in the process of planning for new premises in The Outlet. It is fantastic to see new businesses investing in the area, expanding its offerings and encouraging more people to visit Banbridge.”Last month Tesco announced plans to open a Tesco Extra store, also at Outlet Park, before the end of 2014. The new 60,000 sq ft store is anticipated to create 250 jobs.