Smyth Patterson has announced plans for a multi-million pound redevelopment project in Lisburn city centre.
The ambitious scheme could see the rear of the department store at Wardsborough Road transformed through the creation of a new entrance and customer parking, as well as the construction of a 28-unit apartment block.
The proposals also include plans to give the interior of the shop a facelift.
The company, which last year celebrated 80 years since opening at Market Square, hopes work on the project will get under way early in 2018.
While no figures have yet been made public, the proposed investment is thought to be worth several million pounds.
Colin Patterson, director of Smyth Patterson, commented: “We have always seen our business as part of the community and are delighted to be investing in the city centre. We appreciate the loyalty of our customers and are pleased this development will greatly modernise our store and make it more accessible.
“Since vehicles can no longer stop at the front of the shop, many of our less mobile customers have had difficulty accessing the store, so we are especially pleased to be providing a number of disabled parking spaces at the rear. We will also be able to separate delivery vehicles and customers better with a new purpose-built store further along the road.”
If given the go ahead by planning officials, the work will involve the demolition of old derelict property at Wardsborough Road and the regeneration of the site.
Local business ‘The Fireplace’ has been trading in the area since 2000. As part of the plans, it will be relocating to a new unit within the site and should benefit from the modern surroundings and more convenient access for customers.
Business owners David and John McAuley say they are looking forward to the scheme, which they hope will increase footfall in the area.
It’s understood the owners of Smyth Patterson have been in talks with a housing association about plans for the 28-unit apartment block.
“In Northern Ireland there is still a significant shortage of social housing, therefore this will come as a welcome boost to meet this need,” Mr Patterson added.
Welcoming the company’s plans for the redevelopment of the site at Wardsborough Road, Lisburn Chamber of Commerce vice-president, Evan Morton commented: “This is one of the largest private investment proposals in Lisburn city centre for many years and is fantastic news for the local business community.
“Derelict property will be transformed through this significant investment and the regeneration scheme will benefit many of our members and traders in the local vicinity.”
A spokesperson for Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council added: “The council is delighted that such a significant investment is planned for the city centre, demonstrating the confidence that exists in Lisburn.
“For over 100 years, Smyth Patterson has been synonymous with Lisburn, across many generations, and the council acknowledges the valuable contribution that this long-standing family business has made to the city. It is therefore especially pleasing that this local retailer has such exciting plans for expansion and the council will continue to work with the applicant towards the realisation of this development.
“As with all planning applications, all proposed developments pertaining to the area are subject to satisfactory planning considerations. All planning applications for the area will be considered and decided on through the council’s Planning Committee.”