Business

Asda's Downpatrick store 'needs to be permanently closed and replaced'

Retailer seeks planning permission for temporary supermarket while it prepares long-term solution

Asda's store at Downe Retail Park, which has been closed since flooding hit Downpatrick in early November. Picture by Mal McCann.
Asda's store at Downe Retail Park, which has been closed since flooding hit Downpatrick in early November. Picture by Mal McCann. Asda's store at Downe Retail Park, which has been closed since flooding hit Downpatrick in early November. Picture by Mal McCann.

Asda’s store in Downpatrick must close permanently and be replaced with a new build supermarket, a new planning report commissioned by the retailer has revealed.

The grocer’s store on Ballydugan Road has been shut since severe flooding hit the Co Down town on November 1.

The rising water around the Downe Retail Park left the supermarket with catastrophic structural damage that engineers deemed too dangerous to re-open.

Asda initially announced its Downpatrick store would remain closed for the "foreseeable future".

But a new report produced for the retailer by Belfast planning consultancy TSA has confirmed the store will remain closed permanently.

“Following a detailed assessment of the damage, it has been concluded that the existing store needs to be permanently closed and replaced with a new building,” states the report.

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The document, which has been submitted to Newry, Mourne and Down District Council’s planning department, includes 31 images cataloguing the damage inside the store on November 8.

It includes large cracks in walls and a large hole in the floor.

It’s understood Asda is preparing a proposal for a new long-term store in the area.

Some of the damage captured inside Asda's Downpatrick store.
Some of the damage captured inside Asda's Downpatrick store. Some of the damage captured inside Asda's Downpatrick store.

In the interim period, the retailer is seeking planning permission to erect a temporary supermarket at the Downe Retail Park.

The supermarket chain is currently operating a bus service to its Portadown store from Downpatrick.

The temporary outlet Asda is proposing will consist of a 14,391 sq ft sales floor erected in the car park next to the condemned superstore.

The steel structure for the temporary outlet has already been erected.

It will eventually result in the loss of 103 parking spaces.

Aerial view showing where Asda'a temporary store in Downpatrick will be located.
Aerial view showing where Asda'a temporary store in Downpatrick will be located. Aerial view showing where Asda'a temporary store in Downpatrick will be located.

The company said the temporary store will enable Downpatrick staff to return to work in the town.

Asda said its 156 workers have been retained, and re-located to other stores.

The planning approval initially seeks permission for the structure to remain for three years.

TSA’s report states the retailer wants to retain a presence in the town: “In order to retain Asda’s presence within Downpatrick, proposals are advanced for a new permanent store.”