Carson McDowell successfully opposes John Lewis Store at Sprucefield

01 February 2013

Practice Area: Planning Law


Northern Ireland Environment Minister Alex Attwood has announced that he will not be changing his mind over his decision to limit further development on the site of a planned John Lewis store at Sprucefield near Lisburn.

Gary McGhee, planning and environmental partner at Carson McDowell advised on and co-ordinated the opposition to the development on behalf of a number of rival retailers.

Minister Attwood explained his decision by saying "I have to stand back, I have to put the Northern Ireland interest first, I have to stand back and say what is the right thing for Belfast and Greater Belfast."

Speaking about the Minister's decision, Gary McGhee said:

"The decision of Minister Attwood to bring much needed clarity to retail policy at Sprucefield is to be strongly welcomed. It is the right decision, not just for Belfast, but also for the regional centres of Lisburn, Craigavon and Banbridge which are already suffering badly in the economic downturn and which would have had their retail health further imperiled if this application had been approved.

It should not be forgotten that those objecting to the application have never objected to John Lewis coming to Northern Ireland - quite the reverse. The objectors want John Lewis to come to NI, but to a city centre where retailing of the type proposed by John Lewis is meant to be.

Ultimately, it is and must be, for the Minister for the Environment to decide retail policy, not a retailer - especially in circumstances in which John Lewis has the option of locating at a site such as Royal Exchange in Belfast which has been designed specifically to accommodate a John Lewis store."