10/09/2008

Lisburn Council Backing John Lewis Sprucefield Bid

In an unprecedented move, Lisburn City Council has launched a campaign urging people, from across Northern Ireland, to show their support for the proposed John Lewis store at Sprucefield.

Chair of the Council's Corporate Services Committee, Councillor Paul Givan, said: "With no other site being considered by the John Lewis Partnership, the Council is launching an online petition to enable shoppers, not just from Lisburn, but from right across Northern Ireland, to register the support for the superstore to be built at Sprucefield.

Mr Givan has stressed this is the third and final time this planning application for the new Sprucefield development will be submitted.

"If the application is turned down, the development will be diverted to an alternative location outside Dublin. This would mean a loss of a £200 million development and potentially 2,000 jobs, which Northern Ireland, in the current economic climate, cannot afford," said Councillor Givan.

Lisburn City Council Mayor, Councillor Ronnie Crawford, emphasised that this is not just a debate for the people of Lisburn.

He said: "We must move away from the notion that this planning application is a local issue for Lisburn. It isn't.

"This is about providing choice, jobs and investment for all the people of Northern Ireland, especially at this time of economic downturn.

"Instead of turning such investment down, we should be embracing it with open arms and I have no doubt that the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland would rather see John Lewis represented in Northern Ireland than not at all," said Councillor Crawford.

The new development will initially create 500 much needed jobs in the construction industry, many of which will go to workers from outside Lisburn, benefiting many different communities.

"By launching a petition on our website and at Council Buildings, we are giving the people of the city and beyond a medium to voice their support," said the mayor.

The petition will be presented to the Northern Ireland Environment Minister, Sammy Wilson.

Former Culture Minister and incumbent Lisburn Deputy Mayor, Edwin Poots, said: "I hope that local traders in Lisburn and Belfast will see beyond the objections they expressed to previous applications at Sprucefield, and recognise the benefits that the new development will bring.

"The proposed new jobs and investment will go a long way towards boosting the local economy, and minimising the effects of the economic recession that is currently being experienced," added Mr Poots.

(PR/JM)

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