Attwood grants planning permission for retail edge of town in Newtownards
Published on Mon, 22 Oct 2012 by firstname.lastname@example.org.
Environment Minister Alex Attwood today approved planning permission for a £50 million development at the historic “Castlebawn” site in Newtownards.This is a further “Article 31” (major planning application), one in an ongoing series of major planning announcements being made by the Minister.
The 20,000 square metre development will straddle the Ards Town Centre boundary with one quarter of the retail floorspace within the town centre itself.
The “mall style” element of the retail scheme will be created by converting and restoring existing 19th Century listed buildings on Court Street, part of a designated “Area of Townscape Character” within the town centre which is badly in need of regeneration.
The scheme will also incorporate, restore and enhance public access to the historic “Bawn Wall” – a Scheduled Monument.
Alex Attwood said: “As with other Article 31 applications I have very carefully assessed this application. Given the existing major retail offering in Newtownards – including a Tesco and a recent approval to extend the Ards Shopping Centre – I wanted to be vigilant on how this application might impact on a town that has a great trading reputation, including in this time of double dip recession.
“I visited the site. I have assessed the edge of town character, literally, of the proposal, with part of the development within the town centre. I have been attracted by those elements of the scheme which will see the converting and restoring of an existing 19th Century listed building in Court Street, with the access this affords to the town centre itself. I am fully aware of the views of retailers. Taken together, the regeneration, restoration and retail gains of the application, have led me to conclude in favour of and approve the application.
“This was a judgement that I came to after much thought. It is the decision that, overall, is the better way to proceed. The fact that it is an edge of town/in town development is one that can also work to protect town centre retail.
“As Environment Minister I not only want to protect the environment, but also do everything I can to create jobs and develop the economy. This scheme will help with construction jobs and I hope create opportunities in the retail sector.”
The Minister concluded: “As with all major applications under assessment by my Department, both in Newtownards and in other areas of the North, I intend to clear the 40 or so that remain and make decisions swiftly, but only after giving careful consideration to the individual merits of each case. My Planning department is putting more staff and more time into bringing forward Article 31 approvals and refusals. There is good evidence of this over the last few months and I plan that there is even more evidence over the next few months in the rundown to Christmas.”
Notes to editors:
1. Planning application X/2005/0653/O was submitted to DOE on 17 May 2005.
2. The applicants are Castlebawn Ltd.
3. The application was for outline planning permission for a new retail development and associated car parking, landscaping and associated works and the retention and redevelopment of a number of listed buildings within the town centre.
4. The Department received 23 objections to the application.
5. The application was designated one of major importance under Article 31 of the Planning (NI) Order.
6. The application was dealt with by the Department of Environment’s Strategic Planning Division.
7. For media enquiries and images please contact the DOE Press Office on 028 9025 6058. Out of office hours, contact the EIS Duty Press Officer on pager 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.