A DEVELOPMENT in Newry that could create as many as 1,100 jobs in the city was given the green light yesterday by Environment Minister Alex Attwood.
The multi-use scheme at Greenbank on the Warrenpoint Road is expected to include retail, residential and commercial development and is one of several major planning applications highlighted for action by the minister shortly after taking office.
Greenbank Industrial Estate on the Warrrenpoint Road would be transformed, a statement from the Department of the Environment said, with cafes and restaurants, an enterprise/innovation centre, up to 50 apartments for use as social housing, a foodstore, non-food retail units, a covered mall and a new riverside walkway and cycleway.
Altogether the department said it was anticipated that the scheme would create 1,130 new jobs for the area. Commenting on his decision, Mr Attwood said allowing the project to proceed would offer “a tremendous boost for the city of Newry”.
“This is especially welcome given the economic downturn,” said Mr Attwood.
“I am very conscious of the fact that there are jobs associated with the existing business on the site, and I recognise the ongoing efforts to acquire an alternative site in Newry to which the existing business can be relocated.
“There is no doubt that the proposed redevelopment of the site will help create a better place to live, work and invest in the Newry area.”
The proposal would help deliver a number of the objectives in the Programme for Government, he said, including increasing visitor numbers, supporting the promotion of new jobs and delivering social housing.
“This is just one of many large planning applications, known as Article 31s, that I am making decisions on,” said Mr Attwood
“There are around 50 applications in this category in Northern Ireland at present and I intend to have decisions on the majority of those in the coming months, decisions which will be a catalyst for significant social and economic benefits for Northern Ireland.”
The firm behind the scheme is an English-registered investment company, Parma Investments Ltd, in which Irish businessman Larry Goodman is believed to have an interest.
The agent for Parma, Stephen Ward Town Planning Consultants Ltd in Dundalk, was not available for comment, but Newry businessman Jerome Mullen said the commercial and residential elements at least were good news for the city.
“I think those will bring very welcome jobs in the construction phase and beyond that. I thing that we have a sufficient level of retail at the present time in Newry,” he said.
“We are well catered for as far as retail is concerned but the proposal is very interesting and one that I would welcome myself.”
The application is for full planning permission for demolition and clearance of existing buildings from site and construction of retail-led, mixed-use regeneration scheme to incorporate a food superstore comprising 8,826 sq m of floorspace, non-food retail units comprising 17,917 sq m and an additional convenience unit of 1,526 sq m.
The enterprise/innovation centre comprises more than 3,000 sq m and the development also features 50 apartments for social/affordable housing with private rooftop open space.