Council welcomes court ruling

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Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council has welcomed the recent court ruling regarding the Belfast Metropolitan Plan (BMAP).

The court ruled that the former Minister of the Environment, Mark Durkan, acted unilaterally and unlawfully in authorising the BMAP, without first seeking consent from his Executive colleagues.

This ruling was following a Judicial Review taken by the former Finance Minister, and now First Minster, Arlene Foster, in relation to the process carried out to endorse the latest edition of BMAP.

Under the current Plan, there would have been limited scope for development at Sprucefield, other than retail applications primarily focusing on bulky goods items, effectively vetoing other large scale planning applications.

There have been a number of planning applications submitted over the last decade in relation to Sprucefield, including a number which would have brought retail giant, John Lewis and its partners to the City.

Speaking at the recent Meeting of Council, Alderman William Leathem said that the ruling that BMAP’s introduction was unlawful would hopefully pave the way for an easing of planning restrictions in areas such as Sprucefield and the potential benefits for Northern Ireland could be immense.

“It is now time for common sense to prevail and hopefully decisions will be taken in future fairly and objectively for the betterment of all the people of NI,” he said.

“The Council very much welcomes this judicial review decision and is optimistic that this will kick start an already incredibly long process, giving developers real opportunities to invest in Sprucefield and areas like it.

“The Council would like to thank the First Minister and all those involved throughout the years for their support and commitment to Sprucefield.”