The 20,000m2 development will straddle the Ards Town Centre boundary with one quarter of the retail floorspace within the town centre itself.
The mall-style element of the retail scheme will be created by converting and restoring existing 19th century listed buildings on Court Street, part of a designated ‘area of townscape character’ within the town centre which is badly in need of regeneration.
The scheme will also incorporate, restore and enhance public access to the Bawn Wall – a scheduled monument.
Attwood said that he wanted to be vigilant on how this application might impact on a town that has a great trading reputation, including in this time of double dip recession. “Taken together, the regeneration, restoration and retail gains of the application, have led me to conclude in favour of and approve the application. This was a judgement that I came to after much thought. It is the decision that, overall, is the better way to proceed. The fact that it is an edge of town/in town development is one that can also work to protect town centre retail.”