Northern Ireland

Newtownards traders criticise Castlebawn retail decision

Castlebawn site
Image caption The Castlebawn site straddles the Ards town centre boundary

A new shopping centre planned for Newtownards in County Down could "spell the death knell" for town centre traders, it has been claimed.

A £50m retail development at the town's Castlebawn site was granted planning approval on Monday by the Stormont Environment Minister, Alex Attwood.

William Gilliland, president of Newtownards Chamber of Trade, has criticised the decision.

He claimed large multi-national shops would take trade from local businesses.

The 20,000 sq m development will straddle the Ards town centre boundary with one quarter of the retail floorspace within the town centre.

The application had been in the planning system for seven years.

Potential trade

Mr Attwood's announcement to approve the plan comes shortly after he gave the green light to an application to extend the Ards shopping centre.

The minister has insisted there is enough trading potential in the town for both developments.

However, Mr Gilliland said: "It really looks as if it is starting to spell the death knell for Newtownards town centre.

"Recent talk has all been about lowering corporation tax and keeping trade within Northern Ireland, yet you have a department here that's going to welcome in loads of mainland multiples that are going to take all the money out of Northern Ireland," he added.

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