Brenda Hale DUP MLA for Lagan Valley has challenged the Environment Minister on planning guidelines and policies which deny Lisburn City the opportunity to attract jobs from major office developments.
Under current planning policies any office development of more than 5000square feet cannot be located outside Belfast City Centre.
“It means that only modest locally based offices will be given planning permission in places such as Lisburn,” said Mrs Hale. “It is a policy which needs to be changed. It is discriminatory and makes no planning or economic sense.
“Like all major urban centres Lisburn City centre has been hit by the current recession and changing shopping habits. One way to reverse this and increase footfall in the centre is to provide greater employment opportunities.”
She went onto say, “City centres are not well placed for industrial type investment but service industries including office developments are suitable to such locations. Lisburn has a number of major sites that could be used for large scale office development, yet these would not be even considered under the current planning policies.
“With its excellent infrastructure it has good connections to other parts of NI , the Irish Republic and GB and has already proved its attractiveness as an investment location,” she said.
“Outside the city centre the Maze site itself has vast potential but this could all be curbed if planning policies are not amended. Why should major office development be concentrated in Belfast? It doesn’t even make sense .”