‘New retail strategy will help protect viability of town centre’

Darren Black, President of Ballyclare Chamber of Trade.

Darren Black, President of Ballyclare Chamber of Trade.

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BALLYCLARE is to be promoted as a main focus area for additional retail capacity in the Greater Belfast area, it was revealed this week.

Announcing his decision on retail matters with regard to the Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan (BMAP), Environment Minister Alex Attwood said that the new planning guidelines will help protect the economic viability of local town centres.

The BMAP Retail Strategy means that any retail planning applications must be judged against the promotion of Belfast City Centre as the leading shopping centre in the BMAP area, and the promotion of Lisburn City Centre and the town centres of Ballyclare, Bangor, Carrickfergus, Carryduff and Holywood as the main focus for additional retail capacity.

The Department of the Environment is working towards adoption of BMAP by the end of March this year.

Claiming that the move will help “protect the vitality and viability of existing city and town centres”, Mr Attwood said: “I am strongly committed to putting Belfast first in these difficult times. This is consistent with the revised Regional Development Strategy 2035 which aims to strengthen Belfast as the regional economic driver and the primary retail location in Northern Ireland.

“I also want to see Lisburn City Centre and other town centres in the metropolitan area taking additional retail floorspace.”

Commenting on Mr Attwood’s announcement, Darren Black, President of Ballyclare Chamber of Trade said: “Hopefully this new strategy will lead to the town being a more attractive place to live in, create a more dynamic retail environment and be a catalyst for the growth of the town centre economy, leading to the creation of new jobs.”