Retail NI involved in M&S bid for new Coleraine grocery store

A DECISION to grant Marks and Spencer planning permission for a new grocery store in Coleraine has been delayed after an intervention by Retail NI.

M&S currently operates a food hall in the town center of Coleraine. But he has launched a bid to merge units at the Riverside Retail Park on the outskirts of town, into a new 17,000 square foot grocery store.

A recommendation to approve the application was made to the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council planning committee on Wednesday.

But the advisers chose to postpone any decision following the late intervention by Retail NI.

In an email, sent in the early hours of Wednesday, Andy Stephens of Matrix Planning called for a “deferral period” to allow the committee “to think very seriously about the seriousness of the decision they are about to make”. .

Mr Stephens cited the ‘town center first’ policy and pointed to important sites in Coleraine and Ballymoney which are vacant.

“Coleraine is on its knees with a vacancy rate of over 20%,” he wrote.

He said the recommendation effectively facilitates the relocation of an existing downtown retailer to an out-of-town location, adding, “If such a move were to occur, it would accelerate the abandonment of downtown Coleraine and this would result in significant public funds needed to address this issue. matter that is not in the public interest.

Mr Stephens also referred to Jim Allister’s successful legal challenge in 2019 over planning approval for a £20million hotel complex.

Reacting to the postponement, M&S described it as “extremely disappointing”.

“The app will support up to 70 retail jobs and represents a significant investment in Coleraine by M&S.”