Plans for a new £6 million Marks and Spencer (M&S) food hall in Banbridge are “progressing at pace”.
Despite announcing a large jobs cull towards the end of last year, the retail giant still has plans to open the store at Bridgewater Park.
Last summer, Gortalowry Developments launched a pre-planning consultation on behalf of M&S on the potential to open the new food hall.
M&S says it intends to open a 20,000 sq ft food hall, with an adjacent 11,000 sq ft unit to be used for storage.
The move is expected to create 70 jobs, with another 70 jobs involved in the construction phase.
DUP MP Carla Lockhart and party colleague, Councillor Paul Greenfield, have recently met with the applicants and planners to discuss the progress of the Bridgewater Park application.
Ms Lockhart says approval of the application could act as an “economic catalyst for the town of Banbridge”.
She commented: “this is a good news story for Banbridge. I am pleased that the planning application is progressing at pace with the hope that it will go to the planning committee in the next couple of months for discussion and a decision.
“I am keen to see this application approved given the benefit it will bring to Banbridge in terms of jobs, investment and consumer choice.
“If approved it will also act as an economic driver and will encourage others to consider Banbridge as a destination to open a business.”
Ms Lockhart said it was good to hear again the commitment from M&S to Banbridge and the desire to have the food hall opened as soon as possible.
“Given the current economic climate and the difficulties we have encountered owing to the Covid pandemic it is encouraging that there are new businesses committed to investing in our towns, she add. “I will continue to press for a speedy decision on this application.”
Councillor Paul Greenfield added: “I have been working alongside Carla Lockhart MP to press for this application to be expedited.
“I want to see Banbridge town and the surrounding areas thrive. This is welcome news for the local area and if approved highlights the fact that as a Borough we are open for business.”