Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard has knocked back a £45m proposal to develop ‘North West One’ - a huge retail development on the Crescent Link that was also earmarked to include a ten-screen cinema, gymnasium, drive-through and auxiliary health care facilities.
Mr Hazzard’s Department said it was recommending refusal for the ambitious project because it could damage trade in other centres in the city and cause traffic problems in the Crescent Link area.
READ MORE - North West One Plan descision expected soon
In his notice of refusal issued last Friday, November 18, Departmental officials said the proposed development would have “a significant adverse impact on the trade and turnover of convenience trades within Lisnagelvin, Northside and Springtown District Centres and harm the vitality of policy within the Derry Area plan”.
They said it would also prejudice the implementation of the development plan policies by having a detrimental impact on the same centres.
The Department also had concerns over the impact on traffic in the Crescent Link area.
They warned it would create “unacceptable delays in traffic progression along a protected route that would prejudice the safety and convenience of road users”.
Foyle DUP MLA Gary Middleton, however, expressed disappointment that the North West One application had been turned down.
He said: “It is disappointing news for Londonderry. If this application had been given the green light it would have created in the upwards of 500 jobs, representing a real boost to the local economy.
“Furthermore, it would have represented a significant investment in the area, as it was expected to cost £45million.
“Both myself and my colleague Lord Hay, had been working on this project for a number of years and today’s news feels a bit like a repetition of history.”
Back in 2012 an application for the site by GSB Guernsey Trading Ltd. and GML (NI) Limited was refused by the former Environment Minister Alex Attwood because its 8000 square metres floorspace made it too big “in terms of trade diversion”.
Mr Attwood indicated then that a re-submitted application by GSB Guernsey Trading Ltd. and GML (NI) Limited may have succeeded if some issues had been addressed.
The scheme, however, was thrown up in the air when GSB Guernsey Trading Ltd. was placed in administration in early 2013.
A team appointed by Ulster Bank and KPMG subsequently stepped in to take the development forward.
Mr Middleton said: “Previously the SDLP’s Alex Attwood rejected the original proposal back in 2012. This is a site which has been derelict for some time and a development like this would be very much welcome in the City.
“I understand that the Minister has to work within planning regulations, however it is important that we work together to help and support the economy in the North West. I hope there will be a solution in the future to the deadlock on the Londonderry North West One application.”