Comer Group propose ‘multimillion-pound engineering solution’ for flood-hit Downpatrick retail park

Owner progresses bid for £22m rebuild of Ballydugan Retail Park

CGI showing an aerial view of the rebuilt Ballydugan retail park.
The Comer Group’s plans to rebuild Ballydugan Retail Park in Downpatrick involves some changes to its layout.

Plans to permanently replace a flood-damaged Asda store in Downpatrick will involve a £22 million investment, the owner of the retail park has said.

Comer Group Ireland is proposing “a multimillion-pound engineering solution” for Ballydugan Retail Park, which was hit by severe flooding on November 1 2023.

The Irish property group said it wants to build three new retail units and a new petrol station alongside a new Asda supermarket at the Co Down retail site.

Asda’s Downpatrick store was effectively condemned in the wake of the flooding after engineers determined catastrophic structural damage left it too dangerous to re-open.

The grocer subsequently erected a temporary store in the car park next to the building.

CGI showing an Asda supermarket in a car park.
An impression of how the new build Asda supermarket could look at Bullydugan retail park.

Celpark Limited, a subsidiary of the Comer Group, said its engineering solution to the flood problem will involve reinforced concrete foundations and slabs supported on new piles and pile caps.

“This type of piled foundation solution is not a stone load transfer platform (as per the original foundations), and is a tried and tested engineering solution used in areas where the ground conditions are poor,” it said in a statement.

The property group is currently engaged in a 12-week public consultation, which will see its plans go on display in the St Patrick’s Centre from 1pm to 7pm on Wednesday (March 27).

A full planning application is expected to be submitted in the coming weeks.

Subject to planning approval, construction works could start in October 2024, with the new Asda potentially ready for the public in early 2026.

The Comer Group was built by Galway brothers Luke and Brian, largely in London during the 1980s.

Its multimillion pound portfolio of interests is now spread across dozens of sites in Ireland, Britain and mainland Europe.

Asda's store at Downe Retail Park, which has been closed since flooding hit Downpatrick in early November. Picture by Mal McCann.
Asda's Downpatrick store has not reopened last the floods of last November. Picture by Mal McCann.