Northern Ireland

Public inquiry into two retail schemes gets go ahead

A public inquiry into plans for two major retail schemes in Newtownards, County Down will be held next year.

Developers Paddy McKillen and Padraig Drayne want to extend the Ards shopping centre.

Rival development consortium, Castlebawn, want to create a new shopping development.

It is made up of Fearghal Eastwood and BJ Eastwood of Eastwood Property and Adam Armstrong and Bill Rush who control various property companies.

Chairman of the council's development committee, councillor Angus Carson welcomed that the inquiry was finally getting underway.

"We have been lobbying persistently for the public inquiry to proceed as a matter of urgency and economic necessity for the town and the wider borough," he said.

"The announcement that it will now begin in February 2011 means we will finally get decisions on the large retail proposals which will have a significant impact on revenue, jobs and increased visitor numbers that will be of enormous benefit to our local economy."

Earlier this year, a cross-party delegation from the council met with the Planning Appeals Commission's Chief Commissioner, Marie Campbell, to stress the significance of moving planning decisions forward for the benefit of the local economy.

In the summer, further lobbying took place with the Planning Service, Commission and individual members of the Assembly and Parliament.