Businesses in Enniskillen town centre have objected to the proposed retail and leisure development site at the former Unipork factory site on Factory Road.

Enniskillen Business Partnership (EBP) is calling on its members to “strongly resist” the proposal.

The development plan spans 15 acres and hopes to include a hotel, cinema, six retail units, two garden centres, a coffee pod, restaurant and drive through, self-service pay and pump station and 695 car parking spaces.

There is 111,00sq ft of retail space planned.

In a letter, seen by The Impartial Reporter, EBP outlined its key points to members:

• Pre-application Discussion (PAD) for the new development is well advanced following community consultation in Enniskillen Library March 26, 2019. This part of the pre-application notification (PAN) process is required to be undertaken 12 weeks in advance of lodging planning permission for any major development.

• The formal application is expected to be submitted to the planning department of Fermanagh Omagh District Council shortly.

• Representation has been made on behalf of a prospective developer to the Local Development Plan 2030 outlying a plan to develop the former Unipork factory into a district centre site.

• Should this (the Unipork factory site) be zoned as such, planning permission for the prospective retail site will be granted. This has already been evidenced by the representation made on behalf of the prospective developer.

The letter went on to say; “This requires to be strongly resisted based on robust sound evidence and detailed analysis of the existing town centre including a town health check which will verify and confirm the extremely challenging and fragile circumstances that we as traders are currently experiencing. The project would create large empty units in our town that may never be filled. We must at all costs protect the heart of the Enniskillen.

“This is the focal point of all tourist activity and it is from our attractive and welcoming town centre that the further prosperity of our hotels, guest houses, bars and restaurants radiate.”

The EBP then stated that it had employed the services of planning consultations in order to officially oppose the out of the town centre retail development. The letter also asked for financial support from EBP members and that the recipients will be visited by a member of EBP to discuss any matters arising.

Some members of EBP are also members of Enniskillen BID (Business Improvement District). To be a member of Enniskillen BID a business must fall within a catchment area. The development at Unipork would fall within the catchment. A Business Improvement District is an initiative where businesses come together to decide what improvements are needed in their area. Local businesses work together collectively to improve the area in which they trade.

Asked to comment a spokeswoman for BID told this newspaper: “Enniskillen BID facilitated a meeting in April 2019 to allow BID member businesses to meet with the developer of the former Unipork Site, Cornagrade Road in Enniskillen. The proposed site is within the Enniskillen BID area and we wanted to provide a forum for the BID businesses to find out more about the proposal. Enniskillen BID have had no engagement with the developer regarding the proposal since this meeting.

“Enniskillen BID have agreed not to comment on the proposal at the present time,” she said.