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Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
McDermott concerned plan could see `Lisburn's demise'
Peter Miller of Westfield, Lisburn Mayor Ronnie Crawford, Gareth Thomas of John Lewis, Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson and Sam Harris from Snoddens pictured at the Launch John Lewis Site at Lisburn Civic Centre. US3508-101A0 Picture By: Aidan O'Reilly

Peter Miller of Westfield, Lisburn Mayor Ronnie Crawford, Gareth Thomas of John Lewis, Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson and Sam Harris from Snoddens pictured at the Launch John Lewis Site at Lisburn Civic Centre. US3508-101A0 Picture By: Aidan O'Reilly

SDLP Councillor Matthew McDermott has said whilst he is supportive of John Lewis coming to Lisburn, he could not 'unequivocally' endorse the application as the additional units it will bring could see "Lisburn's demise".

Councillor McDermott was the only councillor to object to a proposal at this week's Planning Committee meeting by DUP Councillor Paul Porter there should be a vote to show who 'unequivocally' endorsed the John Lewis application.

All members of the council, except Councillor McDermott and Councillor Peter O'Hagan who abstained, showed their support for the plan.

Mr McDermott said: "The SDLP support John Lewis and we welcome the potential investment and creation of jobs we should be doing everything we can to see and make this happen. "However, what we should not be doing is looking at this through starry eyes. There is some opposition to this, the opposition refers to the extra units which are being proposed, and it's coming from independent, small retailers in Lisburn City Centre.

"These are the people who helped ensure Lisburn developed into a city, they don't want to see their business or livelihoods wrecked, which can and does happen when a big multinational company comes in. What I'm saying is that we shouldn't 'unequivocally' endorse this, but rather find an amicable and fair solution that will see John Lewis come here, see Lisburn City Centre continue to grow and enhance not only the centre of Lisburn but help the entire north of Ireland."

Mr McDermott concluded, "I believe we can find a solution that will benefit and be acceptable to everyone, and I also believe we have a duty to find that solution, I want to see John Lewis come here but I don't want to see Lisburn's demise."

Members of the public and developers discuss the planning application a consultation in the Linen Centre. US3608-537cd

Members of the public and developers discuss the planning application a consultation in the Linen Centre. US3608-537cd


Council urges quick decision on Sprucefield plan
by STACEY HEANEY

Peter Miller of Westfield speaking at the Launch John Lewis Site at Lisburn Civic Centre. US3508-102A0LISBURN Councillors have welcomed the new planning application for a 150 million development anchored by John Lewis at Sprucefield.

At Mondays Planning Committee meeting councillors agreed to send a letter to the Environment Minister Sammy Wilson encouraging him to make the application a priority, a letter to the Planning Appeals Commission asking them to arrange a public enquiry at an early date and a letter to the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister requesting adequate resources be given the economic and employment benefits of the proposal.

Alderman Edwin Poots said: "1 think it is very good news for the city of Lisburn and for Northern Ireland. In the midst of an economic downturn a l 50 Million investment should be welcomed by all and the fact that it is in the Lagan Valley constituency should be given particular welcome."

However Councillor Peter O'Hagan warned that Lisburn was still being 'blackmailed' by the threat to take the store to Dublin.

"What has changed from the original application? I never had any objection to John Lewis, any objections were to the other units. I am a bit concerned things haven't changed that much, there is still the threat of blackmail of John Lewis being taken to Dublin. I would ask members if they have looked around Lisburn town centre? There are vacant properties in Bow Street Mall, Lisburn Square and several in Market Square. Look at what we are doing to the centre of Lisburn which is dying on its feet."

In response Councillor Bill Gardiner-Watson said: "There is more than one reason why properties are vacant, the rents being asked for are extortionate."

And Mr Poots said: "The critical mass in Lisburn is not strong enough to bring people to the city, John Lewis will bring people to the city. We must rise to the challenge when investment comes our way and not turn our nose up at it." Councillor Paul Butler added: "This development is a huge opportunity for a couple of thousand jobs, particularly in construction which could bring 500 jobs. I don't think John Lewis is a threat, the reality is in the south applications can go through much quicker. Hopefully we can get this pushed through and not be sitting on it in three or four years going over the same arguments; the message should be positive."


Doubt cast over plans for site of Lewis store in Dublin

DOUBT has been cast over plans one of the Dublin locations favoured by John Lewis as a site for a new store.

Supporters of the proposed Lewis development at Sprucefield said the company has two definite sites where it plans to open in the Dublin area and warned it has an option on a third which it will take up if planners again reject the Sprucefield scheme.

This third site north of Dublin, they say, would be a direct alternative to Sprucefield and would rule out the opening of any store in Northern Ireland by the company.

However, phase two of the Dundrum Shopping Mall, one of the two 'definite sites' John Lewis is supposed to be considering has already been delayed by a year and will take at least four years to complete with 2014 now the earliest possible finishing date.

The firm is also strongly rumoured to be in negotation over the anchor unit of a major development in O'Connell Street.

Launch

However, at the launch of the revised Sprucefield planning application last week the company's Director of Retail Design and Development Gareth Thomas played the reports down when asked about the matter.

"We have never made any secret of the fact we would like to open in the Republic at some stage," was all he would say while emphasising yet again Sprucefield was the only site his firm would consider in Northern Ireland.


`Great deal of interest' in additional units

DEVELOPERS Westfield say a great deal of interest has been expressed in the additional units beside John Lewis with enquiries from both retailers who already operate in Northern Ireland and companies new to the province.

The 19 units, which will run between the 240,000 square foot department store and the existing Sainsbury's supermarket, will provide around 540,000 square feet of retail space occuped by companies providing a 'mix of fashion, homeware and leisure goods'.

Four of the units will each be no bigger than 2,691 square feet.

Westfield are unable to give precise dimensions for the remaining 15 as their intention is to make these flexible to suit the needs of individual retailers.

However, none will be smaller than around 5,400 square feet or larger than around 56,000 square feet.

All eateries, other than those within the John Lewis store, will be additional to these units.

 

stacey.heaney@jpress.co.uk

Ulster Star
05/09/2008