The Northern Ireland environment minister, the SDLP’s Alex Atwood has capped a manic year of approving major planning applications in Northern Ireland where the local economy and jobs have been to the fore of the Minister’s decision-making, and yesterday, we learned that (London)Derry is to get a major new Asda store after the Minister examined a number of schemes for retail development, approving one and rejecting three.
The developer, Genova North West, has received the green-light for the GBP 30m (€37m) development of the Asda store at the Crescent Link Retail Park in the Waterside east of the city. Locals including the Chamber of Commerce seem delighted that there will be a major Asda outlet in the city, which will both attract shoppers and deter city residents from travelling to Strabane for their shopping. The Asda store will replace an existing Homebase store at the Crescent Link site.
There are at least five other proposals for major development in (London)Derry and yesterday, three received the thumbs-down from the environment minister. D&A Properties’ plans for a 15,000 sq ft food store in Drumahoe was refused because of its potential impact on other stores and transport facilities. A rival plan to bring Sainsbury’s to the Crescent Link by developer GSB Guernsey Trading Limited were refused outright yesterday. And finally, a plan to develop a Tesco store in the west of the city was also rejected.
NAMA developer, the McGinnis group and their company, Caw Properties Limited, wait to hear if their plans to develop a 100-bed hotel and retail facility in the east of the city are approved, as does Niche Drinks which is planning to develop its premises on Rossdowney Road, also in the east of the city.
Genova is controlled by the Newry-based Murdock family, best known for a range of shopping centres in Northern Ireland and the UK, as well as nursing homes. In September 2011, the BBC reported that some of its loans had been transferred to NAMA, though it also had loans from non-NAMA banks, including Bank of Scotland (Ireland). It is not known if NAMA will have any involvement in the development of the Asda store in (London)Derry but in October 2012, the Northern Ireland Minister for Finance and Personnel, Sammy Wilson said that NAMA had approved over €125m of advances to Northern Irish developers, though some of this will have been for projects outside Northern Ireland.