by NEIL GREENLEES
£150m scheme to bring 2,000 jobs,
Crucial this new application is progressed as
quick as possible
A NEW planning application for a £150 million development
anchored by John Lewis at Sprucefield has been lodged with a
request by the developers for an immediate public inquiry.
The scheme, which would generate a total of
2000 new jobs including 700 in John Lewis and 500 during the
construction phase, includes 19 additional units - 10 fewer than
the original application.
The developers say the plans reflect
'feedback' on previous proposals for the complex which provoked
a campaign of legal challenges from traders in Lisburn, Belfast,
Craigavon and Banbridge lasting several years.
The revised scheme by Westfield and Snoddons
features a John Lewis department store linked to a single level
mall of 19 units.
Westfield now intends to apply for a public
inquiry under Article 31 of the Planning Order in a bid to
expedite the matter.
The company's Development Director Steven
Hassel said it was 'committed to delivering the Sprucefield
development' and the "substantial economic and social benefits
the scheme will bring to the people of Northern Ireland. "Ths
project has been subject to serious delay. It is a scheme of
regional significance in Northern Ireland and we believe that a
public inquiry should be held as soon as possible so that the
community and economy can benefit from the enhanced retail offer
provided by the scheme and the 2,000 jobs that will be created,"
"The involvement of John Lewis shows huge
confidence in the future of shopping in Northern Ireland.
Consumers should be encouraged that we continue to receive
considerable interest from other leading retailers keen to open
"We urge the authorities to expedite, without
delay, a public inquiry so that the benefits this scheme will
bring to Northern Ireland, as ari investment and amenity, can be
realised as soon as possible."
Sam Harris, Director of Snoddons Construction
Ltd, said they were looking forward to taking the scheme forward
subject to planning approval.
The revised proposals are a reflection of the
feedback received in the previous application and, together with
Westfield we have worked hard to reflect the requirements of the
community," he said.
"The crucial aspect now is to progress this
application as quickly as possible, via a public inquiry, which
will ensure that the benefits this scheme will bring not only to
Lisburn but to Northern Ireland as a whole in terms of
employment and retail offer, can be realised as quickly as
Gareth Thomas, John Lewis's Director of
Retail Design and Development said the firm was 'extremely
confident' in both the Sprucefield proposals and the future of
retailing in Northern Ireland in general.
"We hope to offer an unrivalled customer service and
outstanding choice and value for our customers. Our co-ownership
business model sets us apart from our competitors and we are
looking forward to the opportunity to bring the John Lewis
Partnership to Northern Ireland for the first time."
Lewis in £40m pledge for
JOHN Lewis has pledged £40m in support of Westfield's revised
planning application submission.
Gareth Thomas, Director, Retail Design and
"This represents a £40million investment
by John Lewis and is backed by robust research showing
Sprucefield to be the only location 'in Northern Ireland
capable of supporting a full range John Lewis department
store and from which we can run a long-term, successful and
We are very pleased Westfield has
submitted a revised planning application for its scheme at
Sprucefield. We understand that the new submission addresses
the substantive issues raised about the overall scheme
following the previous application, including considerably
reducing the number of retail units..
The proposed 3.5 floor layout will offer an
assortment of more than 350,000 lines of homeware, giftware,
electrical items and fashion brands and a much greater
choice than any other retailer.
Our opening at Sprucefield will create over 700 new jobs,
with each employee becoming a John Lewis Partner and sharing
in the business' profits. In 2008 the Partnership
distributed over £181million in bonus alone to our 69,000
Mayor demands Lewis receive the same treatment
MAYOR Councillor Ronnie Crawford has demanded the Sprucefield
John Lewis application receives the same treatment from planners
as the application by IKEA to open a store at Hollywood
Mr. Crawford pointed out the IKEA application
had been processed in just eight months while it was now four
years and three months since the first Lewis application had
Every day this application is delayed is
costing the city of Lisburn money and we must keep on top of
this application until it is approved," he added.
Mr. Crawford also said there was a need to
look at 'enhancing transport links' to allow the expanded
Sprucefield to benefit-the city centre. "This is an exciting
development and John Lewis are to be commended for their
extraordinary forebearance " he added.
Store plans were first announced 4 years ago
JOHN Lewis first announced its intention to-
open a store at Sprucefield in 2004 and set a deadline of
December of that year for securing planning permission.
Approval for the development was initially
granted by the then Environment Minister Lord Rooker in 2005.
This was overturned by the High Court
following representations by traders in Belfast and Lisburn.
Lord Rooker's successor David Cairns gave the
project the green light - one of his last acts as a direct rule
minister before the Assembly was reconvened.
However, this was again challenged in the
courts after it emerged senior officials in the Planning Service
had recommended refusal for the development.
Westfield and their co-developer Snoddons then withdrew their
£150 million proposal saying it was to be reviewed. The new
proposals unveiled yesterday are the result of the review. A
major stumbling block has always been the mall attached to the
store. Lisburn retailers have stressed they would welcome John
Lewis, but not the other units.
Donaldson in plea to objectors
VALLEY MP Jeffrey Donaldson has urged those opposed to the
original John Lewis proposals to withdraw their objections.
He warned if the scheme did not go ahead
thousands of shoppers would flock to Dublin where the company is
already committed to opening two new stores - one in O'Connell
Street and another at the Dundrum Centre.
The MP also warned John Lewis had the option
of opening a third store to the north of Dublin and would
proceed with this scheme if the revised Sprucefield application
proved unsuccessful. This scenario, he said, would result in
Northern Ireland losing hundreds of jobs an millions of pounds
Mr. Donaldson also spoke about the issue at
Tuesday evening's council meeting when he pointed out road links
with the Dublin area were rapidly improving.
He predicted in the future shoppers from Lisburn would be
able to reach John Lewis stores in Dublin region in just over an