Belfast Telegraph

Lisburn Square on offer for tenth of its former value

By John Mulgrew

A major retail development in Lisburn city centre built at a cost of £23m has gone on sale for less than a tenth of its former value.

Lisburn Square is now on the market for offers over £2.25m - little more than a decade after it was first opened.

The development includes several large tenants such as high street stalwarts Argos, Next and Subway, as well as pub chain JD Wetherspoon.

It includes 29 retail units as well as a number of kiosks, residential premises and 210 underground parking spaces.

But since it opened back in 2001, many of the 90,000 sq ft square's smaller shops have shut, leaving more than 50% of the units vacant.

It's been put on the market by administrators BDO, after former owners Valto Ltd went under in 2013. The firm was owned by two of Northern Ireland's richest men - brothers Thomas and Francis Jennings.

The development has been described as "priced sensibly" and is "reflective of what has happened to retail".

But while it's been struggling over the last few years, a significant reduction in rates could help entice new tenants to the 18 currently empty units.

Interest in purchasing the development - being sold by commercial property firm CBRE - is likely to come from within Northern Ireland.

It claims Lisburn Square can rake in more than £640,000 a year in rent income. But that's at full capacity, with the vacant properties lowering that figure to around £300,000.

Glyn Roberts of the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association said while the high streets were still in the "very early days of recovery" he was "optimistic" a fresh owner could be found.

"We are moving in the right direction and come April 1, when the new councils take over, it's important they address the issues in our town centres," he said. "I'd be reasonably optimistic a buyer could be found. We have seen significant investment in Lisburn in recent years and I think it will be able to move forward."

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