Ulster Unionist Environment spokesperson, Tom Elliott MLA has described the debacle which led to John Lewis withdrawing their planning application for a major shopping centre at Sprucefield as a “shambles”.
“The decision by John Lewis to withdraw their application for a major shopping centre at Sprucefield represents a major body blow for the Northern Ireland economy. Coming in the face of recent disappointing economic indicators, with results showing the province's construction sector is continuing to struggle, people will be astonished at the inability to deliver an estimated £150m injection into our economy, alongside a proposed 1,500 retail jobs.”
“Alex Attwood's 11th hour intervention into this shambles has been the latest unhelpful contribution in a battle that has witnessed three former DUP planning ministers, Arlene Foster, Sammy Wilson and Edwin Poots preside over 9-year planning fiasco.”
“The chaos continues unabated with the First Minister and his colleague Jeffrey Donaldson MP telling us that the Executive can overrule Minister Attwood's decision, while the Environment Minister maintains that he has the final say on the matter.”
“It is therefore unsurprising that John Lewis have been left frustrated at the never-ending stream of confusing signals being sent out by one Planning Minister after another. Not only has Northern Ireland's planning system been shown to be not 'fit for purpose', it seems glaringly obvious to me that a succession of Planning Ministers have also been shown to be not 'fit for purpose'.”
“Had some recognised the importance of progressing this application swiftly and efficiently when they held the planning portfolio we would not have been in this unfortunate position today.”
“The people of Lisburn will be rightly disappointed today and will be justified in demanding answers from those who have given countless assurances over many elections that John Lewis would be delivered.”