Exiles Forum

Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland


Council to seek date for John Lewis inquiry from minister

Ronnie Crawford.LISBURN 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."

Bill Gardiner Watson.However, 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."

Jim Dillon.Mr 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 Management.

"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."

Ulster Star