Poots ‘pressed’ on Asda plan

Derry city centre traders have met with Environment Minister Edwin Poots to oppose Asda’s plans for a Waterside superstore.

Derry City Centre Traders Forum Chair Martin McCrossan - backed by Glyn Roberts, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association - told Mr Poots that a green light for Asda’s plans in Derry would “hugely detrimental” to city centre trade.

Asda has lodged a planning application with the NI Planning Service to build a supermarket with underground car parking at Crescent Link retail park on the site currently occupied by Homebase. It’s planned that Homebase will downsize to facilitate the move.

Mr McCrossan said he first “congratulated the minister” on a recent decision to refuse planning permission for an out of town Tesco superstore at Buncrana Road.

“We also informed him of our strong opposition to further out-of-town supermarket developments and in particular the Asda plans for Crescent link. We made it clear to him that if the planning application was to get the go ahead it would be hugely detrimental to retailers in Derry city centre.”

Mr Roberts said the delegates “pressed” the minister to protect trade in the city centre. “We were very pleased over the minister’s decision on the Buncrana Road Tesco and we pressed him for a similar decision for Asda at Crescent Link. If a similar decision is taken then it opens up huge potential or Derry city centre.” He added: “It is important that there is a strong and vibrant city centre to show the world in the City of Culture year in 2013.”

Asda has confirmed it remains committed to building a new store in Derry. The firm added that it had received overwhelming support for the move, which it claims will create 350 jobs.