Community group throws weight behind £2m Gilford retail development

Visual of the proposed new EuroSpar on the Banbridge Road in Gilford
Gary McDonald Business Editor

TRADERS and community groups in Gilford have thrown their weight behind revised proposals to redevelop a petrol station and convenience retail site in the town which has lain idle for five years.

The family-owned Henderson Group wants to invest £2 million in creating a new EuroSpar food shop and fuel forecourt combination which would create up to 20 jobs.

But progress hinges on Armagh City Banbridge and Craigavon Council's planning committee giving the previously-refused application its approval.

The proposal was originally recommended for approval in March 2018 and then February 2019 by ABC’s planning office, but it was subsequently then recommended for refusal in January last year following a number of objections from residents.

But ahead of the revised application being discussed by Council planners, Matt Crozier, who chairs the Gilford Community Forum (it represents the town’s 1,950 population), insists there is "wide support for the scheme", adding that the proposal is welcomed by his members.

“I have discussed this application with people across Gilford, and can genuinely say I have come across no opposition to it,” he said.

Henderson Group property director Mark Adrain says the new unit would bring many advantages to Gilford.

“The town has been losing shoppers to neighbouring Banbridge, Lurgan and Portadown, and we know from experience of operating these EuroSpar sites in small towns and villages that they not only stem the outward flow of spend, but enhance the attractiveness of their immediate area,” he said.

“We are confident the benefits of a EuroSpar in Gilford, with its supply chain, job opportunities and construction phase, will inject new vigour into the town’s retail offer.”

An economic impact assessment of the proposed store underlines Henderson’s intention to generate the majority of the construction jobs locally through the appointment of a local contractor, the majority of whose employees live in the Lurgan/Banbridge area surrounding Gilford.

“We estimate that between 75 and 100 per cent of the jobs of the construction phase will remain within the ABC Council area,” says Mr Adrain.

Once operational, the retail site would generate an estimated £207,000 to £358,000 in wages annually based on the creation of between 12 and 20 full-time jobs with additional GVA worth between £700,000 and £1.2 million.

The Henderson Group already has a strong presence in the ABC Council area through four company-owned stores and 29 Spar independent franchise stores.

Altogether it employs around 145 people directly through its own stores and a further 850 people through franchises, which represents around 7 per cent of all jobs in the wholesale/retail sector in the ABC Council area.

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