The owner of Jordan’s Mill car park has called on the council’s Planning Committee to recognise the “benefits” the facility brings to Lisburn city centre.
Committee members are due to meet on Monday, April 3 to reconsider their previous decision to permit the temporary reopening of the Antrim Street car park, for a maximum period of two years.
Amid concerns that the local authority could potentially face a legal challenge from other car park operators in the city, the committee has been asked to give the matter further consideration to make sure their previous decision was the correct one.
The car park, which has been at the centre of a protracted planning dispute and is earmarked for longer-term redevelopment, was closed for most of 2016 after the council served an enforcement notice on its owner. But the popular facility was eventually given the green light to reopen late last year following a campaign which attracted considerable support from local traders and members of the public.
The long-running issue had been due back on the committee’s schedule last month, but it was withdrawn at the last minute to give officials time to consider further information, including an economic report carried out on behalf of the owner of the Jordan’s Mill site.
The study, which surveyed more than 25 traders on Antrim Street, McKeown Street and Bow Street in early February, claims that reopening the car park resulted in a 20 per cent boost in trade for business owners in the area.
“The policy context has now changed; we have been able to establish firm evidence to illustrate the importance of the car park to the vitality of Lisburn’s city centre,” said car park owner Hercules Jordan. “There is a need in the short-term to keep the car park open until redevelopment can bring a further boost to the city centre. This was previously supported by a majority of councillors at committee.”
He continued: “The study submitted to Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council illustrates the importance of the car park to city centre trade, and the benefits to shoppers and residents. It was stated to the committee that the temporary use of the land for parking does not harm the operation of other local car parks. Indeed, we are providing a much needed boost to local businesses, supporting the commercial interests of Lisburn city centre.”
Backing the calls for the car park to remain open, Diane Mackey of Mackey’s Bakery said: “Our councillors and elected representatives need to put the needs of local small businesses and shoppers first.”