New plans have been unveiled for The Outlet Retail Park 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 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 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: “Subject to planning it is expected that the new scheme could be completed in early 2015.”