An end to Magherafelt’s supermarket planning saga appears to be in sight with the Minister expected to make an announcement in the near future.
Enivronment Minister Mark H. Durkan’s decision will be eagerly awaited by the applicants and those who raised objections to some of the developments.
Mr Durkan is expected to either pick one of the planning applications or refuse all four.
The oldest, approaching its fourth anniversary, is for Merit Investments - a firm owned by Magherafelt-based Conway family. Their application, which has been amended since it first appeared back in May 2010, is for a 40,000 sq ft store at Moneymore Road. The owner of Ballymena’s Fairhill Shopping Centre, Sam Morrison put in an application for a 50,000 sq ft store at Ballyronan Road in 2011.
The third application involves the demolition of a Forbes Furniture Store at Castledawson and the building of a 45,000 sq ft supermarket, close to the Lidl store. The final plan entails building on agricultural land between Thornhill Avenue and Oakvale Manor, off Moneymore Road, for RSL Developments.
At the time the applications were made none of the major UK supermarkets had a presence in the town until the arrival of Tesco who took over the former Supervalu store at Ballyronan Road a few years ago.
Each of the applicants will need to attract the support of a supermarket who would lease the development for them.
One of the main objections raised to the proposed supermarkets was that they were ‘out of town centre’ and would damage existing business within the town.
Magherafelt, like other towns, has a large number of ‘to let’ premises blighting its main thoroughfares and there were concerns that the number would increase if one of the supermarkets got the ‘green light’.
A DOE spokesperson said all four planning applications were still under consideration and the Minister would announce his decision in the near future.