Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson has welcomed the commencement of a judicial review taken by the Finance Minister Arlene Foster against the decision by the Environment Minister to downgrade the designation of Sprucefield from a regional shopping centre to ‘bulky goods only’ within the planning context of the Belfast Metropolitan Area Plan.
“This decision by the Minister was clearly designed to prevent John Lewis obtaining planning permission for their proposed store at Sprucefield,” said Mr Donaldson.
“Given the regional significance of this decision and the fact that it cuts across a number of Government Departments, the Ministerial Code requires that a Minister must take such a decision to the Executive for their consideration.
“The Environment Minister failed to do this and in taking a unilateral decision he thumbed his nose at the Ministerial Code and the concept of collective responsibility in government.
“I hope and expect that the courts will find that the Environment Minister breached the Ministerial Code in the way in which he took this decision and as such, he will be required to take the matter back to the Executive. For our part, the DUP remains fully committed to supporting John Lewis at Sprucefield and our Ministers will act accordingly.
“I am also aware that INTU as the owners of Sprucefield Park are in ongoing discussion with the Planners and it is expected that they will submit a new planning application for a John Lewis store at Sprucefield in the near future.
“I remain confident that we will eventually see planning approval granted for this important investment with the prospect of over 1,000 jobs being created in the construction and retail sectors.”