Thousands of people have signed a petition calling for the car park at Jordan’s Mill to be retained.
The city centre car park has been at the centre of a planning row in recent weeks as Planners insist it should cease operation and the site be used for development.
However, the majority of local councillors have voiced their support for the retention of the car park until a suitable development plan can be brought forward.
Now customers and local businesses are having their say, with almost 6,000 people signing the petition in just one week.
The operator of the car park, Ken O’Neill, said he has been overwhelmed by the support from customers, as well as from businesses in the Antrim Street area of the city.
“This has been hugely heartening, informative and quite often very moving,” said Mr O’Neill. “In this very short space of time we have received almost 6,000 signatures from supporters who have left us with no uncertainty as to how important they feel this car park is to their participation and contribution to this area of Lisburn.
“This amazing figure has truly stunned us and we really do feel that the hearts and minds of these people must be taken into consideration when any decisions are taken as to the immediate future of the facility.”
Mr O’Neill continued: “The unfortunate thing is that the decision makers were not here to experience the passion that was conveyed to us during the past week. Nobody could have been anything other than emotionally moved by many of the responses that were expressed as they signed in support of the car park remaining open.”
Businesses in the Antrim Street area, many of whom are independently owned by local people, have also voiced their support for the retention of the car park.
Diane Mackey, who owns Mackey’s Bakery opposite the car park, said all of the businesses were behind Mr O’Neill in his campaign to keep the car park open.
Speaking on behalf of the Antrim Street businesses, she said: “We feel the car park is fundamental at this moment in time.
“We understand that it is marked for development but we can’t see why it should close until a suitable development is ready to go.
“In other parts of the city that don’t have this facility, shops are closing. I firmly believe we need this car park to remain open,” she added.
The planning application to allow the car park to remain open, is expected to come back before Lisburn City Council in the New Year and Mr O’Neill hopes the overwhelming support of local councillors, residents and businesses will influence the Planning Officers.
“Thankfully, most of our City Councillors recognise the importance of the car park to this part of the city and have supported the application to continue here,” concluded Mr O’Neill.
“It is very pleasing to show that their support is not misplaced and that they have now the verifiable backing of this huge support of the community.”