Lord Hay of Ballyore has expressed frustration at Tesco’s decision not to proceed with the proposed redevelopment of the Lisnagelvin Shopping Centre, which he says is no longer fit for purpose.
The one-time Londonderry DUP Alderman said there had been a widespread expectation that the proposed £40m investment in a new Tesco Extra store in the heart of the Waterside would create 200 new jobs, boost the local economy, and iron out traffic issues in the Woodburn area.
He also questioned Tesco’s statement that it had made the decision not to proceed when its proposals for a superstore on the Buncrana Road were finally knocked back at a planning appeals hearing in 2013.
“I worked with Tesco for six or seven years to try and get planning permission for this major revamp over the line,” said Lord Hay. “Now they are saying that they told us in 2013 that the development would not be going ahead. I can certainly say that no-one told me.”
Back in 2010 Tesco concept plans for Londonderry promised a brand new Lisnagelvin Shopping Centre and a state-of-the-art new build on the Buncrana Road to complement its Strand Road outlet.
The company established its own website to promote the Lisnagelvin redevelopment and petitions were mobilised in support of the redevelopment.
Lord Hay said: “This would have meant a £40m investment and would have generated hundreds of jobs part-time and full-time for the local area and I have to say it’s very disappointing to learn it won’t be going ahead.”
He said he believed the decision not to proceed may be linked to the supermarket giant’s group-wide retrenchment in light of disappointing financial results.
“This has more to do with the current plight at Tesco,” he said.
However, Tesco said the decision not to proceed had been made over a year ago.
“We publicly announced that we would not be proceeding with a new store at Lisnagelvin in 2013 at the Buncrana Road appeals. We’re sorry to anyone who is disappointed by this decision and will continue to work hard to provide the best possible service to the local community from our existing store,” a spokesperson told the Sentinel.
Notwithstanding the decision not to proceed Lord Hay insisted the company needs to resolve traffic issues at the existing centre.
“The current centre is not fit for purpose. There are all sorts of road traffic management and car parking issues, particularly for people living in the Woodburn area, it is atrociously bad. There’s huge congestion,” he said.
A Tesco spokesperson told the Sentinel the company would be happy to meet Lord Hay to discuss these matters.