UUP MLA Jenny Palmer has said that it is time to “move forward” and accept that John Lewis is never going to come to Sprucefield.
Mrs Palmer is the first Lagan Valley politician to speak out and say that the fight to bring the store to Lisburn is over.
Other politicians, including Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson, have insisted that there is still hope that John Lewis will set up its first Northern Ireland store at Sprucefield. However, Mrs Palmer insists that is no longer a reality.
“I believe John Lewis is dead,” said Mrs Palmer, “It is time to move forward.
“I am not saying I don’t want John Lewis but I don’t think we are going to get it.
“There needs to be a strategic vision and hopefully Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council have that strategic vision. There is a massive opportunity there to bring about investment but it is time to move on from John Lewis.”
Mrs Palmer said she believed other retailers could be found that would be interested in setting up shop at Sprucefield.
She also felt that the development at Sprucefield should be tied in with development at the site of the former Maze prison.
“The Maze could provide huge opportunities for Lisburn. We need to see a mix of housing, retail, and light industrial units at the Maze.
“We also need to see the Knockmore Link Road progressed to link Sprucefield and the Maze site.”