Asda say they remain committed to Banbridge

ASDA have insisted they have not withdrawn their interest in Banbridge following the rejection of their application for a store on the Newry Road.

After Environment Minister Alex Attwood announced that he had refused the plans for a 4,200 square metre store and filling station, the company told the Leader they “remain committed” to Banbridge.

The Minister said he felt approving the store, especially with a location in a mainly residential area, would be detrimental to the “established townscape and character” of the area

A spokeswoman for the superstore said, “We remain committed to bringing Asda’s famous low prices to shoppers in Banbridge.

“Since Tesco was granted permission for a second superstore on the outskirts of the town, we have been reviewing our options.

“We will now take time to study the Minister’s decision and reasons for refusing the application at Newry Road before deciding how to progress.”

Mr Attwood said he strongly believed he had made the right decision.

“We need to ensure that we get retail development right, particularly the in-town/out of town retail balance. I have diligently applied current planning policy and law and made a decision taking all of that on board together with the need to protect town centre trading.”

He went on to outline the reasons for taking the decision, including the effect it may have on existing trade and traffic.

“Banbridge is a town centre that has traded very well in difficult times. I believe this decision will help Banbridge town to continue trading well in ongoing uncertain times.

“The site is located within a predominantly residential area and my concerns about the proposals are shared by many within the local community.

It was revealed that the Department had received 26 objection letters regarding the application, and just three in support.

“There are many of these (Article 31 applications) in the planning system. I promised I would be decisive in resolving the majority of them in the next few months and this decision further demonstrates that.”

The decision follows last year’s approval of the Tesco development at Bridgewater Park by the then Evironment Minister Edwin Poots.

A Judicial Review of that decision, lodged by trading body NIIRTA, was withdrawn earlier this year but no date has yet been confirmed for building work to begin on the site.