The managing agents for Abbeycentre have welcomed planning approval for a major extension project at the shopping complex.
The plans, approved by Environment Minister Mark H Durkan, will see the existing shopping centre extended and the car park reorganised. New retail units will also be built at Longlands Road and restaurant and coffee shop units will be erected on land north of Old Church Road.
The work at Abbeycentre will involve the amalgamation of four existing units with an extension to create a new retail unit of more than 3,800sq/m of floorspace.
The Times understands that efforts to secure a tenant for the new unit are already under way and that negotiations are taking place with a major retailer.
A short distance away at Abbey Retail Park a redevelopment scheme will see two existing retail units make way for the construction of four new retail units of approximately 4,500sq/m floorspace.
At the retail park it is also planned to redevelop part of a vacant site to construct four restaurant/coffee shop units totalling approximately 1,200sq/m. The site previously housed Petworld, Samuel Johnston Ltd and Budget DIY, all of which have been demolished.
“This is a real boost for Newtownabbey. These approvals are to be welcomed as they regenerate previously developed sites and assist the expansion of existing shopping centres which will also bring construction jobs in the short term,” Mr Durkan said.
“These decisions are evidence of my determination to clear the backlog of planning applications and provide a planning system that can deliver.”
A spokesman for managing agents BTW Shiells added: “The Abbeycentre is a very popular retail destination and attracts over six million shoppers a year from a wide area. It offers free parking and excellent customer service, and already boasts a quality line-up of top retail brands. The new investment that can now be made in additional space is destined to improve that offer even further.”
The planning approval recommendations were passed by the council’s Planning and Consultation Committee on Monday, April 7 without debate.
Last week, several media outlets reported that Abbeycentre has been put up for sale as part of a deal that could be worth up to £750m.
The agents for the Longwood Road property declined to comment on the reports.