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NIIRTA Welcomes Town Centre First Planning Policy Change

The Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) has strongly welcomed the new Town Centre First approach to large retail applications, included in the new Single Planning Policy Statement consultation outlined by DOE Minister Durkan to the Assembly this morning. 

Glyn Roberts NIIRTA Chief Executive said:

“NIIRTA strongly welcomes this new ‘Town Centre First’ approach for major retail applications in the new Single Planning Policy Statement. This is something we have been campaigning for, over a dozen years and is good news for local traders and town centres”
 
“Northern Ireland has not only the highest shop vacancy rate in the UK, but twice the UK national average. This is again supported by the GL Hearn research which was released today showing towns such as Ballymoney having a staggering 28% vacancy rate”
 
“This new policy should make it harder for developers to gain permission for large out of town retail applications”
 
“We are very clear. NIIRTA want to see major retailers locate their stores in town centres to enhance them, rather than unsustainable out of town locations which destroy jobs and local businesses”
 
“NIIRTA has always supported a planning system which can make timely and sustainable decisions which create real jobs”
 
“The NI Executive now needs to produce a jointed up Town Centre action plan to address Regeneration, Rates, Car Parking and progress the concept of the Digital High Street”
 
 
Note To Editors
 
The following statistics (Town Centres and Retailing research Project January 2014 by GL Hearn Ltd) highlight the extent of the problem:
 
Empty shops;
 
Ballymoney 28%
Ballymena 24%
Portadown and Strabane 22%
Lisburn 21.5%
Ballycastle, Carrickfergus, Coleraine, Larne, 21%
Antrim, Bangor 18%
Belfast 17%
Derry 16%
Newry 13%
 
Glyn Roberts can be contacted on 07515 710517