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
"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
Members of the public and developers
discuss the planning application a
consultation in the Linen Centre.
Council urges quick decision on Sprucefield
by STACEY HEANEY
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
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
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
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
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
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.