LOCAL residents have said they are "disappointed" that the Planning Appeals Commission has given the go ahead for the controversial Lidl store at the junction of the Antrim Road and Prince William Road. The residents have been fighting a campaign against the development for nearly seven years and have succeeded in having the store reduced in size to 1,065 square metres. Following the campaign, tree preservation orders were also placed on trees at the site.
Lidl had originally sought the go ahead for a store of over 1770 sq. metres on the same site with additional retail units. A second planning application for the site included a store and nine townhouses. Both applications were rejected by the Planning Service.
A spokesperson for the Lower Antrim Road Residents Group, who opposed the development, said they were "very disappointed" with the PAC decision.
"We have opposed this development for nearly seven years," he said. "The opposition has succeeded in getting a much smaller store than was originally applied for. We have also had tree preservation orders put in place and Lidl have been told by the PAC to carry out additional tree planting and landscaping to all of the boundaries and this must be done before the site opens.
"There are a number of other conditions that have also been attached to the planning permission to protect the residents' amenity in the area."
He concluded by thanking everyone who has supported the campaign. "I would like to thank the other residents for their support over the years, as well as councillors from Lisburn City Council, and in particular Alderman Paul Givan, who had supported the residents since the very start in opposing this out-of-town major retail development."
Mr Givan said he was also disappointed with the decision. "I know residents who neighbour this site will be bitterly disappointed by this outcome and they have fought a tremendous campaign and should be commended for their professionalism and whilst ultimately the site will be built upon its impact bas been significantly ameliorated as a result of the excellent work by the Lower Antrim Road Residents' Group.
"I share the frustration that this application was able to by-pass the normal planning process and went straight to the Planning Appeals Commission without Lisburn Council being able to exercise its normal scrutiny function and furthermore that the final version of the Planning Policy Statement that deals with out-of-centre shopping centres has not been published by the Environment Minister, which could have resulted in a different outcome," he continued.
"It will be vital that every condition that has been attached to this decision is complied with as there are very real concerns about the impact on residents and the increased traffic that will be generated as a result of this development which ultimately should have been located in the city centre," he concluded.