Car park owner hits back at comments

The owners of Jordan’s Mill car park have said they are deeply concerned about comments from Councillor Ronnie Crawford that their planning application should be rejected and they should cease operating as a car park.

The owners are seeking permission to continue operating the car park in Antrim Street on a temporary basis. However, Mr Crawford said the site should be developed as a matter of urgency to increase footfall in the city centre.

“To make it clear from the outset, the long term successful future of Lisburn City is of the utmost importance to us and we are not oblivious to how important the Jordans Mill site could be to providing an enhanced and positively supportive role in its future development,” said owner Mr H Jordan. “However, our feeling of dismay from Mr Crawford’s comments surround this rhetorical claim that Lisburn is in need of more ‘retail’ facilities. At this stage of the economic cycle we are in, I would have to ask is this claim for real?

Mr Jordan said he took exception to the assertion by Mr Crawford that he had no intention of changing from a car park. “If he would choose to use facts rather that rhetoric, he would know that there have been a number of planning applications, put together at not insignificant cost, over the years that for various reasons have not got off the ground,” continued Mr Jordan. “Had some of these got approval and development went ahead it is highly likely that we would be sitting with another white elephant with empty units similar to the current unfortunate difficulties being experienced at Lisburn Square.

“It was not long through the life of this car park that there was a huge downturn in the economy, which I am sure Mr Crawford is well aware of.

“This brought with it a fundamental change to what would be possible on this site and in many ways it is probably fortuitous that the car park was, and is, in existence to provide a life blood to this end of the town. This will be borne out by the local traders who, understanding the importance of the people being able to access the area, have strongly expressed their support for the car park to remain until a suitable development is ready to go.”

Mr Jordan said the petition, which had been arranged at the request of the car park customers, shows the strength of feeling on the matter. “Mr Crawford is a representative of these people and I would imagine he would intend to take their feelings into consideration. These people are aware that the site will be developed but they cannot see any logic in the site lying fallow until such time as an appropriate and suitable development is approved and viable.”

The owner of the car park has offered to meet with Mr Crawford to discuss the planning application. “We did attempt to contact Mr Crawford subsequent to his original objection to our planning application. We would like to take this opportunity to again invite Mr Crawford to meet with us, hear what we have to say and then comment with a more informed point of view.”

Mr Jordan concluded: “To reiterate our position, it is in everyone’s long term interest to have the site developed with an appropriate and viable development. We are working towards this but if Mr Crawford thinks that closing the car park will force anyone to magic up a project for this site he is both uninformed and very wide of the mark. Until the development is approved and ready there is nothing to be gained by the closure of the car park other than a detrimental effect on the immediately local enterprises and the people who currently provide the support for these businesses.”