NIIRTA welcomes stance

THE Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) has welcomed the Environment Minister’s statement on retail development at Sprucefield.

NIIRTA Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said: “We welcome the pro-town centre emphasis of Minister Attwood’s statement. Given that we have the highest Town Centre Shop Vacancy Rate in the UK and that Belfast has 1 in 4 shops vacant, it is right that BMAP promotes a Town Centre First approach to major retail planning applications.”

On the John Lewis question Mr Roberts said: “NIIRTA very much wants to see John Lewis come to Northern Ireland and we have always emphasised the need for them to locate in a town or city centre rather than an out of town location. We need closure on the Sprucefield question and hopefully April’s Planning Appeals Commission will resolve this issue and not drag it out any further.

“NIIRTA will be seeking a meeting with John Lewis to discuss this issue further.”