A five-year bid by the Henderson Group to open a massive new EuroSpar store in Gilford – at a cost of around £2 million – looks set to finally cross the line, Armagh I can reveal.
And it is expected that the retail outlet – complete with petrol forecourt – will create around 30 new full and part-time jobs.
The development – earmarked for the site of the old Maxol Station and Mace Shop on the Banbridge Road – has been recommended for approval at the June sitting of ABC Council’s planning committee.
Plans – which attracted dozens of letters of both objection and support – were first lodged back in June 2017.
There has been much back and forwards since then with the proposals up for approval twice and then recommended for refusal again last year.
Now, however, it seems likely that the project – representing a huge investment in the village – will be given the go-ahead.
The Henderson Group has been seeking approval for the demolition of an existing petrol filling station forecourt and convenience store.
It intends to build a new petrol filling station forecourt and convenience store – complete with a deli – with associated retaining wall, access and parking.
The applicant is also seeking a change of use of the existing commercial premises to provide a new car parking layout.
The new EuroSpar store would see a substantial increase on the size of the previous commercial unit, as it would more than treble in capacity, from just over 1,800 sq ft to almost 6,500 sq ft.
But it is smaller than the original proposals, which had been for a retail outlet of almost 9,000 sq ft, with amended plans having been drawn up to satisfy planners’ concerns.
The new petrol forecourt would have three pump islands – offering six pumps – and 40 marked parking spaces.
According to information submitted to planners at the time, the proposals represent a significant investment and will also support a number of construction jobs too.
In correspondence to council, it is advised: “The proposed development is a welcome and needed investment by a business with a widespread interest in the borough council area in an existing local shopping facility.”
It says the development will support a “range of local suppliers” and “provide additional rates income to the local authority to support the delivery of public services”.
The applicant says the “modern” retail and petrol forecourt will “deliver the comprehensive redevelopment of a brownfield site”.
And it will “meet a local need and provide improved customer choice and greater diversity in the retail offer of Gilford”.
A retail study had been carried out in relation to the proposals and has been considered by council.
Officials have now decided that the development should be allowed to proceed and will make that recommendation to June’s sitting of planning committee next week.
It will be up to councillors to decide then whether or not to accept that opinion.