Overwhelming Support for Revitalised Retail Hub in Downpatrick

Plans for replacement Asda store in Downpatrick submitted to Council

The proposed £22m development by Celpark Ltd and Asda has received overwhelming public support, with the developers expressing confidence that planners will expedite the decision to allow construction to commence in early 2025 and be completed by early 2027. Both Celpark and Asda have emphasized the importance of the project in revitalising Downpatrick and providing a landmark shopping destination to drive footfall and investment in the town.

There is overwhelming support for the building of a replacement Asda superstore and adjacent retail units together with a new petrol station with shop at Ballydugan Retail Park in Downpatrick. The findings are derived from the recent public consultation, with almost 90% of people from the local community who engaged with the consultation giving their full support to the plans.

After last year’s devastating floods, members of the public have said that the plans are ‘great’, that the new store is ‘very much needed for Downpatrick’, and that the anchor retailer in the town is the ‘biggest draw for smaller businesses and services’. One said that ‘Councillors and residents would give their full support to this proposal in order to expedite the planning application’. One responded to say that they welcomed the proposed development and that it was ‘encouraging to see the inclusion of a petrol station and pedestrian access which was closed off a number of years ago’. Another said that they think the plans are ‘brilliant’, adding ‘a lot of thought went into these plans and thank you for looking after us in Downpatrick, I cannot wait for the new store and complex to be opened’.

These sentiments have been echoed by Malachy McGrady, Chair of the Downpatrick Regeneration Working Group. Welcoming the plans for the new Asda superstore, Malachy said: “On behalf of Downpatrick Regeneration Working Group I am delighted that Comer Group and ASDA have committed to re-investing in Downpatrick after the devastating flood damage that occurred to the superstore and adjacent retail units last year.

“This is a significant project which will bring much needed investment and footfall to the town. Time is of the essence and we have been in discussions with all the relevant statutory agencies in relation to the planning application and hope that this will be progressed as quickly as possible.”

If approved by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, the £22m proposal will commence in early 2025 replacing the existing Asda store and three of the non-food retail units. The plans provide for a petrol filling station with shop, a service yard and around 465 free car parking spaces that will include EV charging points. A multimillion-pound engineering solution used in areas of the site where ground conditions are poor is also included in the proposals.

The developers behind the planning application are Celpark Ltd, part of the family owned Comer Group. Internationally renowned, they have been responsible for some of the most innovative builds in recent years across major European cities.

Speaking about the plans for Downpatrick, a Celpark spokesperson said: “We are truly committed to this £22m investment in the heart of Downpatrick. The public consultation has taken us a step closer to realising the crucial development for Ballydugan Retail Park. The consultation was an integral and valuable part of the planning process and, as we submit our plan to Council, we are buoyed by the outcome and positive community reaction to our proposition.

“For the town to succeed, a landmark shopping destination of this nature and an anchor retailer like Asda are vital for driving footfall, encouraging future investment and delivering jobs to the local area.

“We are confident that the planners will expedite their decision in order for the build to commence within our desired timeframe with completion by early 2027.”

An Asda spokesperson said: “We are delighted with the progress that has been made so far in the planning of a long-term solution for an Asda store in Downpatrick, in partnership with our colleagues at Celpark. In the months since the closure of our Downpatrick store as a result the flooding last year, we’ve seen first-hand how much of a key role Asda plays in the local community which our colleagues do a fantastic job of serving in the temporary store currently.

“This step marks an important milestone on our journey in Downpatrick and we’re excited to continue on with the planning process for the new permanent store, which will bring the full range of Asda services back to the community.”

Celpark has made a genuine and concerted effort to ensure that it has involved as many members of the local community as possible throughout its pre-application process. It has engaged with a wide range of local stakeholders, including residents and local political representatives. Stakeholder engagement will continue throughout the remainder of the planning process and beyond.

Explore more topics
Place Guild
Related news stories