A prominent Lisburn property developer has launched a passionate defence of the city following strong recent criticisms on Facebook.
Businessman Rodney Dowling said he felt impelled to speak out after reading “adverse comments” about Lisburn on the Ulster Star letters page.
Mr Dowling, who said he appreciated the defence of the city by the Ulster Star editor Damian Wilson, admitted the public realm scheme had caused “considerable inconvenience” to the public and business people.
However, he predicted the pain would be worth it in the end.
“It has been extremely painful but with investment of around £6m, there will always be pain and bother causing us great concern. There is an old saying, ‘no gain without pain’. Gladly I am delighted it is nearing completion.
“We would ask our many city shoppers and business traders to take time, look around and admire what a beautiful city we have the privilege to reside and work in.”
Mr Dowling admitted that the night time economy in the city centre had been affected by the swimming pool’s relocation to the Lagan Valley LeisurePlex.
He advocates the relocation of the arts centre, the concert hall and conference centre from Lagan Valley Island to possible sites in the city centre.
“If these facilities could be re-located into the city centre, where they should be, it could be the catalyst we need to kick-start and rejuvenate the night-time economy,” he continued.
Mr Dowling also advocates the return of the births, deaths and marriages registration office to the city centre, claiming Lagan Valley Island is “too far out of the way for people with no transport”.
He outlined his concern about plans to move Lisburn Health Centre from Linenhall Street to the Lagan Valley Hospital site.
“When it locates to the Lagan Valley Hospital what will this still mean to our city centre shops, in particular chemist shops? If my information is correct a chemist dispensing facility will be located in the new facility at Lagan Valley Hospital. The anticipated loss of footfall and daily spend will be very significant and difficult to replace.
“Another possible loss is the courthouse. I could go on. You, the people of Lisburn, need to make your voice heard and keep these facilities in the city centre.”
Mr Dowling also revealed that he had held discussions with two estate agents about a possible approach to Invest NI about the creation of Grade One office accommodation in Lisburn.
“This would avoid the totally unnecessary bumper to bumper drive into Belfast.”