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Department for Infrastructure intervenes over proposed Enniskillen out-of-town development

Words: Roger Milne
Intervening / iStock-1182902738

The Department for Infrastructure (DfI) has intervened over the decision by the planning committee of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council to back proposals for a major out-of-town retail development at Enniskillen against the advice of officials.

At issue is a development known as the Lakelands Retail Park, which local businesses fear will do untold damage to the town centre. The committee’s support for the proposal, on the casting vote of the committee chair, was condemned by trade body Retail NI as “shameful”.

A departmental spokesperson told The Planner that the DfI had issued a ‘holding’ direction on 24 June 2021 to allow the department time to consider whether or not the proposed Lakelands Retail Park development in Enniskillen raises issues that require the application to be referred to it for further consideration and determination.

The scheme involves proposals for retail units, garden centres, a 54-bedroom hotel, cinema, bowling alley, petrol station, a drive-through restaurant as well as more than 750 parking spaces.

It is earmarked for a 6.6-hectare site, which once housed a bacon factory, about a mile from the town centre.

Council planners had told the committee the scheme was contrary to the DfI’s Strategic Planning Policy Statement (SPPS).

The report considered by the committee when it met on 18 June stressed that the proposals would have a “significant adverse impact on the trade and turnover of the town centre; the town centre’s vitality and viability; planned private sector investment in the form of the Station Green developments; and generally, investor confidence in the town centre.”

Glyn Roberts, chief executive of business organisation Retail NI, branded the council’s decision as "shameful" and insisted that it breached Northern Ireland’s ‘town centre first’ planning policy.

Image credit | iStock