£50m Sprucefield development plan 'belongs in the last century' says Retail NI
THE head of a Northern Ireland retail body has said the £50 million development plan for Sprucefield Retail Park in Lisburn "belongs in the last century".
The chief executive of Retail NI, Glyn Roberts has warned that the proposals being brought forward by Intu for the retail park will drive shoppers away from the city centre and voiced his opposition.
“As an organisation which campaigns for a town centre first retail planning policy, our preference is for these thirteen new retail units to be located in Lisburn city centre, rather than in an out of town location," he said.
“These proposals will draw trade and jobs away from Lisburn city centre and are in breach of the planning regulations which promote town centre first retail applications. Out of town retail belongs in the last century. The future is 21st century town and city centres that have a dynamic mix of retail and hospitality. Thirteen new retailers located in Lisburn city centre would be a big boost for existing traders, increase footfall and greatly improve Lisburn's retail offer."
Intu, owner of some of the UK's largest and most popular shopping centres, confirmed yesterday that it plans to transform Sprucefield Retail Park into a "flourishing retail location". The proposed £50m investment includes the creation of a new retail terrace consisting of 13 units and five food and beverage outlets in addition to a 80-bedroom hotel. If the plans come to fruition the developer said the major investment would create more than 200 construction jobs and another 300 retail jobs. The latest proposals do not contain any provision for a John Lewis store, previously earmarked for the site.
Mr Roberts said it is no surprise that John Lewis is not part of the new application, given that the retailer has changed store formats and moved to having a greater online presence.
“I hope that we will see a John Lewis store coming to Northern Ireland in a town or city centre location, in the near future," he added.
Development director at Intu, Martin Breeden has said there is already interest from retailers in the Sprucefield site and a community consultation on the plans is set to take place shortly, before the submission of a planning application.