Retail giant The Range looks set to be given the blessing of the ABC Council to open a massive new superstore in Portadown.
Four months after Armagh I exclusively revealed the multi-million pound investment proposal at the Meadows Shopping Centre and it now looks set to become a reality.
Planning officials at Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council have indicated that there is no reason why the store – which would create 65 new jobs – cannot go ahead.
This week they have issued councillors with an opinion to approve the plans for the massive new store and garden centre.
The final decision, of course, will rest with the council’s planning authority when it sits early in November, but it is fully expected that no objections will be forthcoming at that time.
None of the statutory bodies consulted with have expressed any reservations.
There had been some concerns in relation to access to a small number of staff parking spaces but these have been addressed by the applicant’s agent.
The Department for Infrastructure has written to say that it is “content” with the assurances of the agent and now has “no objections” to the proposals.
Environmental Health, meanwhile, says it has “no issues of concern in principle”.
But, in outlining this to council officers, an official did write: “The Planning Service may wish to consider conditioning the hours of operation and delivery times, as there are a number of residential properties in the vicinity.”
When it passes the final hurdle – as expected next month – it will be full steam ahead.
As Armagh I revealed, the home, leisure and garden giant intends opening a massive store and garden centre at the Meadows Shopping Centre – even bigger than the anchor tenant Tesco. It will cover a large part of the largely vacant shopping centre and the entire of the external yard.
Upper Bann MP David Simpson has welcomed the news.
“I am delighted to see all the hard work on this has paid off and to see it over the line,” he said.
“This is a huge jobs boost to our town and will attract many out of town visitors.”
The DUP representative praised the party’s Portadown representatives, Daryn Causby and Louise Templeton, for their role.
Mr Simpson added: “I will be meeting with the Range management team in the coming weeks. I look forward to bringing further updates.”
The Range – which boasts of selling more than 65,000 products across 16 departments – has more than 130 stores across the UK and the Republic of Ireland.
It opened its first store in Northern Ireland at the Braidwater Retail Park in Ballymena last October. It includes a cafe and outdoor garden centre and created 80 new jobs.
The value retailer’s offering in its stores throughout the UK includes furniture, housewares, arts and crafts supplies, gifts, toys, books, pet products and gardening tools.
Another is due to open on the Buncrana Road in Derry/Londonderry before the end of this year, with another 80 jobs expected.
A third – at Connswater Shopping Centre has also since been confirmed – and is described as ‘coming soon’.
It now looks like the fourth store will be in Co Armagh – at the Meadows – with approval about in the bag.