New ‘Town Centre First’ planning policy welcomed

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Monday, September 28th, 2015
Business, Politics
The Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) has welcomed the publication of the new Strategic Planning Policy Statement, which includes for the first time a new Town Centre First Retail Planning Policy. Hill Street, NewryDOE Minister Mark H Durkan MLA published the policy statement in a written statement to the Assembly today. The new policy incorporates the old draft PPS 5. NIIRTA Chief Executive Glyn Roberts, who met with Minister Durkan today, said, “Since our establishment as a business organisation fifteen years ago, NIIRTA has been lobbying for the publication of a Town Centre First planning policy. “We are delighted that at long last this policy is published and that it will be the guide for the Eleven Councils. Out of town retail development has been a key contributing factor in the decline of our town centres, drawing away trade, resulting in thousands of independent retailers closing and a significant loss of net employment,” he insisted. “While this new policy is good news, we face a massive task in tackling dereliction in our town and city centres. With the highest shop vacancy rate in the UK of 17.3% we need to establish a Northern Ireland Town Team, bringing together the Executive, Councils, Retail and Hospitality sectors to agree a comprehensive regeneration plan. Glyn added, “Further action on Rates, Car Parking, Shop Vacancies and Regeneration is urgently needed and NIIRTA will shortly set our new thinking in our alternative Programme for Government.”
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