Councillors check out Larne supermarket plan

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Revised plans to transform Larne’s derelict bleach and dye works into a supermarket have received a mixed welcome from local councillors.

JTJ (Larne) Ltd is proposing to create a mixed-use commercial development at the Inver Road site, comprising a 4180 sq m retail foodstore, a business unit and community enterprise unit, along with associated car parking.

The proposal comes after a similar plan by Emerald Holdings (CI) Ltd was refused in 2010.

Representatives from JTJ presented their plans to Larne Borough Council recently, and outlined how this project differed from the original application.

Spokesman George Long said one key difference was that the foodstore in this scheme was around 25 per cent smaller, and unlike the original plan, the project not require any land from Inver Park.

Mr Long added that the developer wanted to create a new pedestrian link to the site from the town centre, which would run under the A8 flyover.

However, the most controversial aspect of the scheme has proven to be the proposal to construct a slip road into the site across the Inver River.

This would involve a major upgrade at the busy A8 Belfast Road at its junction with Pound Street junction, as well as the installation of traffic lights.

Councillor Roy Craig spoke out against the plans and said he was “very disappointed” that the scheme did not provide access to vehicles from the town centre.

He felt that traders would be “far from supportive” of the plan and added: “We have been trying hard to get people to shop in the town centre, but this is another out-of-town development.

“Until there is proper vehicular access from Inver Road, I will not be supporting this.”

Ald Jack McKee added: “Larne needs another foodstore like it does a hole in the head.”

However, Councillor Bobby McKee disagreed and felt the scheme would be welcomed by the people of Larne, adding: “59 per cent of the population are going outside the town to shop.”

Cllr Brian Dunn also gave his backing to the plan and said: “I would be supportive of any scheme which is going to sort out that site.”

He added: “Inver Road is never going to cope with that volume of traffic and if it did the residents would be up in arms.”

Ald Roy Beggs welcomed the proposal and said: “We (Larne Borough Council) do not want to go out of existence leaving that eyesore site as part of our legacy.”

Mr Long said he would take on board the feedback.