A PLANNING inquiry over whether a sports retailer can adapt the former Megabowl site will take place later this year after the firm and the site’s owner appealed a decision to block planning permission for the store.

SportsDirect is hoping to move its Newport Retail Park store into the vacant former bowling alley in Spytty nearby, but had its joint planning with Johnsey Estates turned down by Newport council planning officers.

Officers had decided that the proposals would significantly harm the vitality and viability of Newport city centre.

This was despite the company saying the new mixed leisure and retail outfit would have created 150 new jobs.

Planning officers made the decision despite Newport council having lost an appeal over the Megabowl in 2008 after it turned down an application for mixed leisure and retail use.

Sports Direct and Johnsey Estates applied for permission for the retailer to move the store, incorporating a gym and possibly Home Bargains. One big objector to the plans was Queensberry Real Estate, the developer of the city centre Friars Walk scheme.

The firm, which is in the midsts of building the new city centre redevelopment, claimed that the applicant had inaccurately tested whether different city retail sites could accommodate Sports Direct.

Sports Direct previously said that the new store would have been one of the largest units used by the firm, occupying a building that has been otherwise vacant for the last nine years.

In March this year, the Argus reported how the sports firm had said it was disappointed with the refusal.

A spokeswoman for the company had said: “Our intention with this unit would have been to invest around £5 million to create a 35,000 sq ft retail unit, together with a 20,000 sq ft gym – a proposition which would have created 150 full and part-time jobs”.

But Newport council officers argued the proposals would cause “significant harm to interests of acknowledged importance, namely the vitality and viability of the sequentially preferable city centre,

The inquiry will be held on November 5 and 6.