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Council backs planners who blocked revamp of Lisburn shopping centre

By Rebecca Black

Lisburn City Council has backed a decision to refuse planning permission for a major extension of Bow Street Mall.

One councillor expressed fury last month when the Planning Service turned down the proposal – a decade after it was submitted.

The plans were for a 260,000sq ft department store, an additional 540 car parking spaces and 30 new retail units.

Permission was also sought for a major new access point for the centre and environmentally-friendly transport initiatives to reduce traffic in the city centre.

There were discussions about including residential and leisure facilities in the proposal.

But the Planning Service refused permission "by reason of their (plans) impact on an adjacent listed building, the character of the area and traffic generation".

The SDLP's Pat Catney had said the redevelopment would have boosted the centre of Lisburn, which "was on its knees".

But on Tuesday night the council's planning committee backed the decision to refuse permission.

Committee chairman Uel Mackin said that Lisburn had been badly affected by the economic downturn, but claimed it was now recovering.

"Lisburn City Council values the contribution to the economy of the existing traders, manufacturers and businesses within its area," he said.

"The council is consistent in its decisions to support appropriate developments. Only last month the committee agreed to approval being granted for a mixed use development at the Jordan's Mill site, which is in keeping with the city centre masterplan.

"Lisburn, like all towns and cities, was affected by the economic downturn. But it is making a recovery, with seven new businesses having opened in the core city centre area in the past year.

"The traders and the council should be proud of the strength and resilience of the city centre in meeting the needs of residents and visitors in terms of retail and eating establishments."

He said he was content with the Planning Service's decision over Bow Street Mall, adding: "I would encourage all proposers of developments in the city centre to consult with the council and be aware of the aspirations of the city centre masterplan."

Timeline

2005: Plans first submitted to Planning Service for redevelopment and extension to Bow Street Mall.

2008: Property developer Michael Herbert said that he hoped the extended mall, controlled by his firm, would be able to attract Northern Ireland's first John Lewis store.

2009: Amendments made to initial plans. The city's then deputy mayor Edwin Poots proposed living accommodation could be included in the plans, as well as an 800-seater theatre and restaurants.

July 2014: Permission is refused.

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