Council is to write to Environment Minister Sammy Wilson asking
when a date will be set for a public inquiry into the
development of John Lewis at Sprucefield after a �60 million
extension to Bow Street Mall, which hopes to lure John Lewis to
the City Centre, was announced last week.
Councillors gave a 'cautious' welcome to the
announcement the Mall has lodged a planning application for a
major extension which they hope will lure John Lewis into the
city centre and are due to have representatives for the Mall
attend the Planning Committee in February. Speaking at this
week's meeting Councillor Bill Gardiner-Watson commented, "I
would always welcome large investment in the centre of Lisburn."
he added, "I had a phone call from an agent for John Lewis who
said that Sprucefield was the preferred location and suggested
that a move into Bow Street Mall was not acceptable."
Alderman Jim Dillon said that while he
welcomed anyone who was "willing to spend in the city centre,"
he would like to "proceed cautiously". He proposed the council
seek confirmation of a date for the Lewis public inquiry from
the Minister. The Mayor, Councillor Ronnie Crawford, added, "The
new application for John Lewis has been in for four months. We
asked for a public inquiry so that the Mall, Green's and fellow
traders can go along and make their objections loud and clear
and so that everybody had the chance to express their views.
"Four months later we have still not got an
announcement on a date for that inquiry, which is causing delays
to the development. You would think the Executive would show
some urgency on the matter; it contrasts greatly with the
Titanic Quarter in Blefast, where work is due to start in
January. This is a two nation province; Belfast and the rest."
Crawford continued: "I have great concerns about the street
scape; Bow Street Mall must be one of the ugliest buildings in
the city. The warehousing look is simply not on, the council are
very keen to be in keeping with the rest of the town, along the
lines of Lisburn Square, but this will destroy the street scape."
Councillor Paul Givan stated, "This council
promotes the city centre and is looking at a masterplan. Bow
Street Mall don't contribute financially to the City Centre
"The migration of footfall from Bow Street
has been because of Bow Street Mall, we need to get Bow Street
Mall working more closely with the city centre and I look
forward to Bow Street Mall representatives coming here."
Councillor Jonathan Craig added: "I am
cautious about a third development of Bowl Street
Mall. Some of the development has led to huge difficulty in
other areas of the city and we have to consider Market Square
and Bow Street. It will be good to have the opportunity to speak
to them and maybe question what their commitment is to the city
centre." Cllr Andrew Ewing commented: "Newry is obviously
booming at the moment and certainly trade from the South could
be increased greatly in Lisburn if John Lewis could come to
Sprucefield. Bow Street Mall and the City Centre could also get
a spin off from it."