Tesco decision to be made this week

PLANNERS are expected to meet with Environment Minister Edwin Poots this week to decide whether or not to give developers the go-ahead to build a Tesco store at Bridgewater Park.

The Leader understands the meeting will take place today (Tuesday) or tomorrow and an official announcement is expected later in the week.

Developers submitted an application last year, reducing the store’s proposed size by 20 per cent. That followed a refusal to allow the original 130,000 square foot store - which would have been the biggest in Ireland - by both the Planning Service and the Planning Appeals Commission.

It is believed planners originally recommended this second application also be refused, but developers have since submitted further information for consideration, including a report by independent analysts Oxford Economics.

Developers and other supporters of the application are keen that a decision is made before March 24 - the last day of business at Stormont before the Northern Ireland Assembly is dissolved ahead of May’s elections.

Since the first application in 2008 opposition has been strongly expressed by town traders, backed by the Northern Ireland Independent Retail and Trade Association.

However, following the failure of the developer’s appeal a petition by local people in support of the plans was delivered to the Planning Service.

A well-placed source said they would be “very surprised” if the store doesn’t finally get the go-ahead.