A bid to relocate a Co Armagh supermarket as part of a multi-million pound investment plan has been recommended for approval.
Armagh I revealed in July that Lidl hoped to move its Lurgan outlet to a site on the outskirts of the town, which was described as “more accessible”.
Planning officials at Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council are recommending that the development be allowed to proceed.
That, of course, is due to go before the council’s planning and regulatory services committee today (Wednesday) for consideration by elected representatives.
Lidl opened at Castle Lane in Lurgan in December 1999, on a vacant site beside the old Tesco at Castle Lane.
But it applied for permission to relocate to a new site at the Pinehurst Retail Park, on Kitchen Hill, demolishing three units on the partially-used development and building a new 2,400 sq ft store.
A retail impact study presented to planning officials indicated an investment in the region of £5.2 million.
That covers the cost of the store, as well as the provision of 156 car parking spaces and landscaping at the site.
The proposal was listed as a ‘major application’, given that it consisted of an out-of-town retail development in excess of 1,000 sq metres.
And, while officers ruled that the proposal did not comply with some policy statements, they found that previous permission for a similar and larger development usage had been issued.
In a report which will be going to the planning committee on Wednesday, they state: “Officers have taken into consideration the fact that there is an extant planning permission for an unrestricted retail development on this site which has been implemented and which represents a fall back position for the applicant.
“The fall back position represents a material consideration for the council in considering the current application. The potential impact of the current application on the vitality and viability of protected centres is considered to be less than the previously approved schemes.”
They point too to the positives, which includes the fact that the multi-million pound store will bring in around £350,000 annually in rates.
It will also see 10 new full-time jobs being created, along with the safeguarding and relocation of 10 others from Castle Lane.
And during the construction phase – which would be expected to last about six months – a further 50 manual and professional jobs would be created.
In addition, the proposed landscape works and new external lighting would “provide a general facelift to improve the appearance of the retail park”.
While it is recommended for approval, the final decision will rest with councillors.