New north Belfast Asda store plans dropped

Asda trolleys Asda said the new store was no longer commercially viable

The supermarket chain Asda has dropped plans for a new store in north Belfast.

The firm had wanted to open a new store on Loughview Playing Fields, to replace their existing shop on the Shore Road.

Asda and their development partner, Bayshore Development, were supposed to buy the playing fields from Belfast City Council for £14m.

In a statement, the company said that the site was no longer commercially viable for them and criticised delays in the planning process.

Property communications manager Lisa Rooke said they had first submitted their plan in 2009, but had not yet had an answer from planners.

Analysis

Belfast City Council stands to lose millions in potential revenue following the collapse of a property deal with supermarket group Asda.

A superstore, petrol station and other retail units were planned for the the site of the Loughside Recreation Centre and playing fields on Belfast's Shore Road.

But Asda has withdrawn from the scheme, blaming the economic climate and delays in the planning process.

The development could have earned Belfast City Council a reported £14m. That money was earmarked for the council's City Investment Fund which it uses to support large scale projects.

Asda recently had planning permission for a store in Banbridge refused. It currently operates 15 stores in Northern Ireland.

"The delays in the planning process have not assisted the application, and the proposal for relocating the store no longer adds up in the current economic climate," she said.

"We have listened to the views of the local community, and are looking at opportunities to make improvements to our existing store on Shore Road, which trades successfully and has good community relations in the area."

More than 1,500 people had lodged letters of objection to planners over the proposal to sell the playing fields to the supermarket.

Asda said that more than 1,000 people had signed a petition of support for the plan in the Shore Road store and that two other community-led petitions, with a combined total of 560 signatures, supporting the new development had been sent to planners.

The plan was for a superstore, car park, petrol station and a number of non-food retail units on the Loughside site.

The council had intended to develop a new 3G all-weather pitch, sports pavilion and children's play facilities on the nearby Loughside Park, along with residential units on a neighbouring site.

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