The new council representing Ballymena has been urged to reject proposals for an out of town supermarket application when it comes before it tomorrow night.
In the first vote on such an application by one of the new councils, Mid-Antrim has been urged by Ballymena Chamber of Commerce and the independent retail lobby group NIIRTA to support the town centre and reject the Green Pastures plan.
In a joint statement, chamber president Alan Stewart and NIIRTA CEO Glyn Roberts said the town centre had made great progress that could now be threatened.
“This proposed out of town hypermarket is a major threat to the viability of Ballymena town centre and will displace and destroy jobs from existing retailers,” the men said.
“This is a test case which will be watched by thousands of independent retailers.
“Local councils should be supporting and championing town centres not supporting economically unsustainable proposals such as the Green Pastures retail application”
“If Mid Antrim Council truly believes in a town centre first planning policy for major retail applications and wants Ballymena town centre to have a viable future, then they must reject this application.”
“Out of town stores belong in the past and the future is about a 21st century Ballymena, which has a dynamic and varied retail sector alongside vibrant restaurants, bars and cafes that offers something different to shoppers.”
The evangelical church Green Pastures is behind the scheme to develop an ‘urban village’ on the edge of the of the town featuring homes, a hotel, business and community facilities.
An initial supermarket element was rejected but a new, smaller store - cut from 6,100 - 4,100sqm - has now been recommended for approval.