Speculation supermarket giant is coming to north of city
by JULIE-ANN SPENCE
SPECULATION is mounting that supermarket giant Asda could be looking to bring its first store to Lisburn after it was linked to a new planning application which has been lodged for a 27,000 square foot supermarket in the north of the city.
Last week a public notice appeared revealing that planning permission was being sought for supermarket on the site of the former Down Royal Public House on the Ballinderry Road. The application also includes the provision of a 2,000sq ft. petrol station and 206 car parking spaces.
The application comes just a few months after permission was granted for the development of apartments on the site, which has been empty for several years.
Whilst Asda has refused to speculate on any live or current plans for the city, a spokesperson stated that "Lisburn is an area of interest" to the company.
If the scheme gets the go ahead, it could bring new jobs to the city. However, many residents are likely to be opposed to the proposal.
Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson said he would welcome the arrival of Asda to Lisburn but insisted that a city centre location would be more beneficial.
"We are very keen for Asda to come to Lisburn but we recognise the importance of having as Asda store located in or very close to the city centre," said Mr Donaldson.
"The retail sector in Lisburn is really struggling at the moment and we need to have a major retail outlet in the city centre.
"I intend to meet with the management of Asda to see if we can identify a site in the city centre to improve footfall for all retailers," he continued.
"I would be concerned about Asda locating a store outside the city centre as I believe that will create similar problems as those created by Tesco, in terms of traffic and the impact on local residents, and it will damage the retail sector in the city centre."
The Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association, Glyn Roberts, said that if Asda are interested in Lisburn, they should be locating a store in the city centre. "We need more focus on Lisburn city centre and would like to see Asda locate in the city centre rather than at an out of town location.
"Lisburn needs more retailers to establish in the city centre and with some imagination a suitable location could be found."
Mr Roberts added that he would also like to see other major retailers set up shop in Lisburn.
"Waitrose are looking to come over to Northern Ireland and I would love to see them in Lisburn City Centre."