Members of the council’s Planning Committee have been asked to give further consideration to their decision to approve the reopening of Jordan’s Mill car park.
The long-running saga concerning the Antrim Street site shows no sign of concluding any time soon, with the issue due to be back on the agenda next week.
Following a campaign by local residents and traders, Planning Committee members approved the temporary reopening of the car park in late 2016, for a maximum period of two years. However, that decision has proven unpopular with a number of other car park owners in the city.
It’s understood the local authority could face a possible legal challenge for permitting the temporary reopening of the car park, which had been closed for almost a year after its owners were served with an enforcement notice.
Planning Committee members are due to meet at Lagan Valley Island on Monday (March 6) to give the matter further consideration.
Committee chairman, Cllr Alexander Redpath commented: “This is a very litigious application and it has been going through the legal process in one form or another for the past 10 years. Unsurprisingly, feelings are still running high on this application and the committee have been advised by our officers to hear this application again to ensure that the final decision is as safe and robust as possible.
“Our decision will be evidence-based with reference to all material considerations and any relevant evidence brought to us by the applicant, objectors, supporters and council officers.”
Meanwhile, with concerns growing that the public car park could once again be facing closure, its owners have moved to stress its importance to local shoppers and traders.
A survey of more than 25 traders on Antrim Street, McKeown Street and Bow Street, conducted on behalf of the car park’s owners in early February, found that a majority of 88 per cent had seen a 10-20 per cent downturn in business activity when the car park closed.
When the car park reopened, 38 per cent of businesses surveyed in Lisburn city centre reported an improvement of between 10-20 per cent, and a further 29 per cent of businesses indicated an improvement of 20 per cent or more.
A second survey of more than 160 car park users, also conducted by Turley, found that 48 per cent of people visiting the car park were from Lisburn city and that the predominate use of the car park, 70 per cent, was for shopping.
Diane Mackey, of Mackey’s Bakery commented: “When the car park was closed in December 2015, there was an immediate downtown in our trading. When the car park reopened in December 2016 we immediately saw a positive response from customers who enjoy being able to park close to nearby shops in the city centre.
“The re-opening of Jordan’s Mill car park has brought a much-need boost not just to our own trade, but all businesses in the area have noticed a sizeable increase in trading.
“We campaigned to reopen the car park, and we will continue our campaign to ensure the car park remains open. Our councillors and elected representatives need to put the needs of local small business and shoppers first.”