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Massive Armagh Tesco store plan readvertised

CAR parking and access issues surrounding a new multi-million pound Tesco development in Armagh are currently being considered by DoE Planners, Armagh I can reveal.

The multi-national hopes to create 250 new jobs on a massive site occupying the former Fane Valley store in the city and a number of properties at Railway Street.

A succession of planning applications have been submitted since the plans were first revealed in July 2011.

Given the site in question and its proximity to the busy Moy Road and residential developments in the Alexander Road area, roads and access issues were always going to be a matter for close scrutiny.

Tesco has now readvertised its food superstore application, with associated car parking, landscaping and access. Amended road drawings, information and drainage assessment have also been submitted.

The public have until Tuesday of next week to express their opinions on the latest information being looked at by Planning Service at Marlborough House.

It is not known how long a determination will take in relation to the overall development. Major applications of this nature have, in the past, been forced to public inquiry, with the DoE Minister Mark H Durkan the man who would make the ultimate decision if that were the case.

In January, Armagh City and District Council gave its blessing to the Tesco development.

When news of the planned supermarket first emerged two years ago, it was met with mixed reaction, with many welcoming the prospect of additional jobs, while others expressed fears it could move trade away from the city centre.

In a bid to voice their opposition, a petition with over 100 signatures from city business owners was handed over to Armagh Council, expressing concern at the proposed development. The city council was split on the issue, with some making calls for a retail impact assessment to be carried out.

While not obligated, the multi-national bowed to concerns and agreed to undertake the trade study, in a bid to alleviate fears. With that in the back pocket, Armagh councillors – after much discussion – came out in support of the planned Tesco store. At the time, a statement from the council said it welcomed the plans, subject to the developer and DoE Planning NI, having regard to the Armagh Masterplan.

“The development will work to sustain and enhance the retail offering of Armagh City Centre, which has been transformed in recent years, thanks to substantial council and other statutory investment to enhance its competitiveness and viability,” the council statement said at the time.

The planning application, which has already been resubmitted on a number of occasions, proposes the erection of a food superstore, with associated car parking, landscaping and access at Alexander Road.

The massive site – which also comprises of three houses, 79,97 and 99 Railway Street – would have a total gross floor space of 4,624 square metres and would incorporate sales, offices, storage and ancillary facilities.

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