Cllr Ford MLA said: “I welcome the draft planning document as it will help safeguard the future of town and city centre shops.
“I am particularly glad to see the proposed protection of retail life in city and town centres, as such policy is long overdue.
“Many of our town centres urgently require regeneration, or at least, the removal of the threat posed by out-of-town shopping.
“This decision is a decade behind equivalent planning policy in Great Britain.
“It calls into serious question the current plans for Junction One, which go beyond its original plans as a factory outlet centre. My principal concern is that this may damage the potential regeneration of Antrim town centre, despite all the good work being done by the Council and other agencies.
“I hope that the draft policy, when implement, will boost the retail economy of Northern Ireland and lead to further foreign direct investment. Alliance wants to see the development of a strong retail economy, in order to help create more employment opportunities in the region.
“I also welcome the focus on the need for good public transport links, as outlined within this document. It is essential that we see integrated strategy in the areas of public transport and planning policy.”