Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Addiction charity urges planning approval for service station

This week the Council’s planning department will reconsider an application for the construction of a service station on the site of the Good Shepherd Convent on Newry’s Armagh Road.

The site is located east of the A1 dual carriageway southbound Newry/Craigavon off slip and the application has previously has been recommended for rejection by planners for a number of reasons including road safety and the rural location of the site.

The planning application submitted by Maxol oil company represents a £6 million investment and would deliver a large petrol station, shop and restaurant services, child play area, picnic area, car, coach, lorry and caravan parking.  The scheme has been designed to service motorway traffic travelling across the border and, if approved, will create 80 jobs during construction phase and 60 full-time retail jobs completed. It will also bring a significantly increased rates revenue for Newry, Mourne and Down District council.

Ahead of the decision being made, a local charity that owns the site of the proposed development is urging planning officials to approve the scheme, stating the financial benefit will help fund its much-needed services.

The application site is currently owned by Cuan Mhuire, which operates an addiction treatment centre on the outskirts of Newry. They are the largest voluntary provider of Addiction Treatment Services and Residential Rehabilitation. The main objective is the rehabilitation of persons suffering from alcohol, drug and gambling addictions.  The sale of the site to the developers will help fund the centre and thus the charity is hopeful that approval will be granted.

Cuan Mhuire Director, Noel Griffin said: “The number of people suffering from addiction has increased significantly over this past 10 years to the extent that we do not have enough beds for those seeking our help. We currently are awaiting planning permission to build apartments at our Dublin Road centre for residents who remain homeless at the end of their 12 week programme, thereby freeing up beds for those on the waiting list. The sale of this land is vital to that project and also to the overall running costs of Cuan Mhuire Centre, Newry.”

A spokesperson for Maxol said it feels there is a clear need for the facility.

“This scheme has been designed to serve motorway traffic primarily. We see a clear need for a motorway service station in the Newry area on this strategic route close to the border. Maxol have recently successfully delivered a service station at Tannaghmore on the A26 between Antrim and Ballymena and we look forward to continuing to investing in Northern Ireland through the delivery of this vital facility,” the spokesperson said.

Transport NI and Environmental Health have offered no objection to the proposals while the Freight Transport in Northern Ireland says the facility “would be an extremely valuable resource” for HGV drivers.

The planning application is scheduled to be debated by the Council’s planning committee this Wednesday 24th July.