18/02/2009

Public Inquiry Into John Lewis Proposals

Retailer John Lewis has welcomed the Environment Minister's approval for a public inquiry into the chain's plans for a £150m Ulster site.

The scheme, which has the potential to create thousands of local jobs - including many in the construction sector - is proposed for the Sprucefield shopping complex, outside Lisburn.

Plans for the development have been public knowledge for the last four years.

However, it has faced continued wrangling, both political and commercial.

Environment Minister Sammy Wilson today said: "I have considered the options available to me and I am satisfied that the best way forward is through the public inquiry procedure.

"In making this decision I am conscious of the importance of new inward investment and the potential for employment associated with the proposal, particularly in the current economic climate.
News Image
"I will therefore be asking the Planning Appeals Commission to give this matter a high priority."

Joint venture partners Westfield and Snoddon Developments have welcomed the Minister's move.

They submitted a fresh planning application to Lisburn City Council last year.

The revamped proposals saw the number of auxiliary shops based at the complex slashed, from 29 to 19.

Last August, the developers said they expected the scaled-down plans, which stretch over 50,000 square metres, to overcome objections from concerned retail groups.

Initial proposals for the Sprucefield scheme were lodged and approved in 2005.

However, the then minister Lord Rooker's decision was overturned at a judicial review.

Retailers in Belfast, Lisburn, Banbridge and Craigavon voiced strong opposition to the plans.

The pressure groups said they did not oppose a John Lewis outlet, rather the size of the development and the number of subsequent stores associated with the project.

(PR/JM)

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

19 June 2009
Area Delays Won't Affect Planning
Planners in Northern Ireland will continue to deal with major economic investment proposals speedily and effectively - despite delays in bringing forward new area development plans - NI Environment Minister Sammy Wilson has said.
29 August 2002
Sinn Féin may conditionally endorse police
In a softening of their position over policing, Sinn Fein yesterday opened the way for the party to take up their seats on the Policing Board and endorse the new policing arrangements.
14 October 2008
Maze Stadium To Be Dropped?
After months of political wrangling, and conflicting media reports, the NI Sports Minister now looks poised to ditch plans for a national sports stadium at Long Kesh. Gregory Campbell (pictured) said finalised recommendations have now been formulated, and he was ready to brief Executive colleagues.
03 August 2012
Law Reform Proposals Must Not 'Gather Dust' - Judge
Law reform proposals must not just "gather dust", a High Court judge has warned. Mr Justice Bernard McCloskey is chair of the Northern Ireland Law Commission, an independent body which reviews and recommends reform of the law.
18 October 2010
Politicians Help 'Kick Hate Into Touch'
An innovative campaign, the 'Unite Against Hate' sporting weekend has been launched. Stormont First Minister Peter Robinson and his Junior Minister Gerry Kelly (pictured) joined forces to support the campaign which highlights all forms of hate crime and challenges people here to unite to stop it.