‘We can’t turn our noses up at fifty jobs’

Coleraine Feature'Adrian McQuillan DUP.'see story Colin O'Carroll'Pic Gavan Caldwell
Coleraine Feature'Adrian McQuillan DUP.'see story Colin O'Carroll'Pic Gavan Caldwell

An MLA has described a planning decision which could have brought around fifty jobs to the Coleraine area as ‘outrageous’.

DUP man Adrian McQuillan was speaking last week after we reported that retailer ‘Home Bargains’ has been refused permission to use a site at the Riverside Regional Centre in Coleraine.

Planners refused the application saying that there were ‘suitable’ sites for the retailer in the town centre.

The were five objection letters by two different objectors to the application.

“I just don’t see how we can justify turning our noses up at the prospect of 50 jobs,” said the MLA.

“I have been speaking to Home Bargains and I know that all of their other stores in Northern Ireland are located in out of town centres. The sites offered to the retailer in Coleraine - the former JJB site and the former Dunnes site were just not viable for them.

“As elected representatives, we work hard to try and attract companies to the area. What are we supposed to do when a Government department keeping jobs from our area, it’s is just crazy. I want to see Coleraine Town Centre thriving, but I also feel that businesses have the right to choose where they trade.”

The MLA says that the retailer has now requested a meeting with Planning Headquarters about the application. “My understanding is that a Retail Assessment Report on this application concluded that the application would have no detrimental impact on the town centre, so I really can’t understand why the local office refused this,” added McQuillan.

We had a number of irate comments about the refusal on our facebook page. One user said: “Turn down money to the town, plus jobs. Very good council members and planners. No wonder Coleraine is losing customers. Give people choice.”

A spokesperson for DoE said: “ This site is outside Coleraine Town Centre. Planning Policy Statement 5 Retailing and Town Centres favours mixed retailing, such as is proposed in the subject planning application, within town centres. However, sites outside town centres can also be considered and each application is considered on its own merits.”