Outline planning permission for a huge mixed use development in Strabane has been given the green light.
The development has the potential to provide significant employment opportunities for the local area.
It includes an employment park, a learning campus; a 90 bed hotel, a retail foodstore, a garden centre, petrol filling station, a children’s play area, a sports and wellbeing centre, a river wildlife centre and environmental and access infrastructure.
The applicants are Riverside Building and Development Ltd and the site is located on lands North of (and including) River Mourne, east of (and including) the River Foyle and west of the Lifford Road Roundabout and Barnhill Road (A5) and including Lifford Road from Lifford Bridge to Lifford Road Roundabout.
Giving the go-ahead for the project, Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said: “I have considered this application carefully as I am aware of the fundamental planning and policy issues concerning this development. However, I also recognise the potential benefits of the project. I am aware that Strabane is one of the most deprived areas of Northern Ireland with 44% of the population of Strabane District Council area living in deprived areas.
“I have visited Strabane and listened to and considered the views of a broad spectrum of interested parties. I acknowledge that overall there is strong local support for the project and the need for new investment, job creation and the potential for this development to act as a catalyst for further inward investment. I am also aware of the concerns of some local town centre traders. However, I believe that any potential negative impact associated within this development will be offset in the long term by growth in the local economy, the creation of jobs and greater wealth, inward investment and visitor spend.
“I believe this is a unique opportunity for Strabane, there is no other comparable proposal and an investment opportunity of this kind is unlikely to come forward in the foreseeable future. The Riverine Project will strengthen cross border linkages and build on the relationship which exists between two border towns. I see this project as an opportunity to develop a regionally significant visitor destination at this gateway location and to redefine the relationship between Lifford and Strabane.”
The Minister concluded: “There are currently 15 Article 31 decisions in the system and I promise to continue to make the right decisions quickly after I have thoroughly considered all of the issues. This decision is evidence of my determination to clear the backlog of planning applications and provide a planning system that can deliver. What I and DOE are about is a better environment and a stronger economy. This decision will certainly contribute to that.”