130 jobs on way with Rushmere expansion

Rushmere Shopping Centre.
Rushmere Shopping Centre.

Up to 130 jobs will be created with the construction of two new restaurants at Rushmere Shopping Centre.

Fifty of the posts will be created during the construction phase and 78-80 part-time and full-time jobs once both restaurants are up and running.

The project, which was last week approved by the full Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council, should be completed by spring 2017.

Discussions are currently ongoing with several interested operators for the units.

According to the plans, the restaurants will be added to the external elevation of the shopping centre and built within the existing car park, close to the north mall entrance.

They will have a combined floorspace of 860 square metres and access will be from the external facade of the new units, with each unit having its own entrance way.

A total of seven extra car parking spaces will be provided, and additional areas will be landscaped.

Mrs Angela Wiggan from Turley Associates, the agent for Central Craigavon Ltd, owners of the shopping centre, said the proposal was “seeking to complement the existing retail offer available at Rushmere and add to the mix of uses within Craigavon town centre”.

She referred to the jobs boost the project would bring.

In considering the application, planners looked at a number of factors, including car parking and traffic movement.

Although the total car parking spaces for Rushmere would fall slightly below recommended levels, a survey conducted over three days indicated there was ample spare capacity each day to accommodate the new restaurants.

Planners also made the point that “the peak times for restaurants differ to the peak times for Rushmere as a whole”.

A traffic survey was also carried out, at the request of TransportNI, due to concerns regarding queuing outside Rushmere and the impact on traffic movement at Central Way.

The survey assessed the impact of introducing bollards on the central aisle of the north car park and was carried out over two weekends in May, the first without the barriers and the second with them.

It found that the barriers improved traffic flow and queuing and would mitigate the increase in traffic generated by the restaurants.

As a result, planners said the bollards should be a permanent part of the project.

The planners noted that there had been no objections or letters of support.

The restaurants will join the growing number in the area, with two opening recently at the Omniplex, Highfield.