The President of Banbridge Chamber of Commerce has expressed his disappointment at the news that Home Bargains is set to be given the go-ahead at Bridgewater Park.
The move would see Home Bargains combine the two empty retail units beside Tesco Bridgewater and could create 75 jobs but could take more business away from the town centre.
President of the Banbridge Chamber of Commerce, Michael Donaghy, said: “It is a bit sad that the Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s first decision may be to take shopping out of the town centre.
“We’ve nothing against businesses going to Bridgewater Park but we would prefer they stayed in the town centre. We would have hoped they could have found a site there and there are a few units in the town that could have been occupied.
“We are delighted that Lidl have chosen to reopen in the town centre as any money going out of town is not good for businesses here.”
Northern Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) have voiced their discontent as well.
NIIRTA Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said: “Banbridge Chamber of Commerce and NIIRTA do not support this proposed out of town store. Given that the Tesco Bridgewater Store has already taken 30% trade away from Banbridge Town Centre and contributed to the Supervalu Store going into administration, this is not the type of development Banbridge needs at this time.
“We believe that this store will draw even more trade and jobs away from Banbridge Town Centre. The focus for this type of store should be Town Centre First -that is what the new Retail Planning Policy makes very clear.
“We hope that the ABC Council will take the same view.”
Liam McCrum’s report to the council noted that the proposal does not comply with the Development Plan but it would not significantly prejudice the implementation of the Development Plan given the remaining land available.
It also stated a sequential test was carried out to demonstrate that there are no possible sites within Banbridge primary retail core, its town centres or edge of centre locations.
The agent has also submitted a Retail Impact Assessment and an Assessment of Need that demonstrates that the proposal will not have a significant adverse impact on the vitality and viability of existing town centres within the catchment.