Bombardier says Church Road site is '˜not for sale'

Bombardier Aerospace says its Church Road base is not for sale, despite lodging a planning application for a mixed-use development at the site.

Thursday, 4th February 2016, 9:00 am
Bombardier Aerospace Ltd's Church Road site. INNT-05-700-con

The outline planning application, which was re-advertised last week, includes proposals for a food store, petrol filling station, business enterprise/incubator units, car parking and a pedestrian link to Valley Park.

According to a Bombardier spokesperson, the area concerned focuses on the buildings previously occupied by FG Wilson and Lear Fan.

The spokesperson stated: “At this stage it’s part of our ongoing business strategy.

“We regularly review how to make our building assets work best for us and as a result explore our business opportunities.

“This is only in an exploration stage.”

Bombardier Aerospace Ltd currently employs more than 1,000 workers in the Newtownabbey area, most of whom work at its Doagh Road site (the former Nortel plant).

Asked if there were plans to close the Church Road facility and transfer the jobs to the Doagh Road site, the Bombardier spokesperson commented: “The Church Road site is not under threat of closure, we are exploring our options.

“It’s not for sale and there will be no work force announcements.

“It is at an early stage and there are no specifics for this.

“This is being done on an ongoing basis as we have a number of sites in the greater Belfast area and we review how those building assets work.”

The spokesperson said that the planning application was “nothing to do with financial difficulties” related to the company’s other programmes, and that it was part of the business strategy.

The application, which was first lodged with the planning service in November 2014, has so far received ten objections.

These include letters of objection from NIIRTA, Boxpak Ltd and Valley Business Centre tenants.

According to an economic impact assessment (EIA), the retail and filling station could generate rates of £584,000 while the business units could generate rates of £49,100 per annum.

The EIA claims that, when all impacts are considered, the proposed development could support 443 jobs and £11 million in wages per annum.

A spokesperson for the trade union Unite said that they were aware of the planning application for the site but declined to make a statement on the issue.

One employee, who didn’t want to be identified, said that “rumours have been rife for years” that the Church Road site could be sold off to a major supermarket chain. However, the company says it has no plans for such a move.