Tuesday 1 June 2010

John Lewis Enquiry to Begin

John Lewis finds decisions in Northern Ireland never knowingly rushed

The public enquiry into the John Lewis development at Sprucefield is due to begin on Monday (7th June 2010).
It means a decision on the controversial £150m Sprucefield Park expansion could be made within 6-8 weeks, once the Planning Appeals Commission (PAC) makes its recommendations following the long-awaited enquiry.
Although the scheme and the associated jobs would provide a boost to the local economy, the Green Party argue that any new store should be located within Lisburn City Centre, rather than on the out-of-town Sprucefield Park site.
Conor Quinn of Lagan Valley Greens said “We are not objecting to John Lewis, who are a very responsible employer, but to the Westfield development as a whole. Nineteen extra retail units at Sprucefield can only have a seriously detrimental effect on the shops and businesses located within Lisburn itself.”
The public enquiry was due to go ahead in November, but was called off at the last minute after it emerged that a key document was submitted after the deadline.
If the enquiry finds in favour of the new store, it would make a recommendation to the Department of the Environment, which would make the final decision.
The Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) is also opposed to the Sprucefield plan. Spokesperson Glyn Roberts said “We’re happy to abide by whatever comes out of the public enquiry.”
He added “The impact of the John Lewis development is different from an out-of-town Tesco store and needs a different approach. However, I think we still would much rather see John Lewis in a town centre.”
Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson is backing the scheme.

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