A plan to transform a derelict textile factory into a multimillion-pound development site has been given the green light by the environment minister.
The 10 hectares in Newtownards where the old Crepe Weavers factory currently stands are set to be regenerated with a variety of businesses, community services and residential accommodation - facilities that could potentially create up to 400 jobs.
Minister Mark H Durkan, who was required to adjudicate personally on the planning application due to its large scale, said the outline approval would provide a real boost for the local economy.
The proposal submitted by Marm Developments includes industrial, leisure and business units; two nursing homes; a 100-bed hotel; a neighbourhood centre with a creche/nursery, retail units, a health centre and a bank; several hot food outlets; a petrol filling station and 96 residential units.
Textile production at the factory concluded in 2005, with subsequent other industrial uses ending in 2010.
“This will be a tremendous economic and social boost for the area,” he said.
“This 10-hectare site has been derelict for some time and its redevelopment will provide a much-needed employment boost for the town, while providing valuable community and tourism facilities.
“A significant part of the site will be reserved for industrial purposes and the mixed-use components will also generate much-needed employment. I have sought to ensure that the non-industrial units cannot proceed on their own by including a planning condition to build a number of industrial units at the outset.
“The development has the potential to accommodate as many jobs as the factory once supported at its peak and represents the best opportunity to improve the appearance and vibrancy of the site at its gateway location on the southern edge of the town. The local shopping and community facilities will be used by residents within the site and beyond and will also attract visitors and benefit from passing trade.”