Members of the public have welcomed the council’s decision to approve the reopening of Jordan’s Mill car park.
The local authority’s Planning Committee voted this week to permit the reopening of the car park on a temporary basis, for a maximum period of two years.
The Antrim Street site, which has been the subject of a protracted planning dispute, had been operating as a car park for more than a decade until it was forced to close earlier this year when the council served an enforcement notice on its owner.
That move angered many local traders and members of the public, who have been calling for the reopening of the car park.
Planning Committee members debated the issue for over an hour at their meeting on Monday afternoon, with both supporters and objectors getting a chance to have their say on the application to reopen the car park.
Five committee members voted in favour of approving the application, while three voted against.
Commenting on the issue on social media, the committee’s decision has been welcomed by local people as “brilliant news” and “a good decision for the people of Lisburn”.
The Chairman of the Planning Committee, Ulster Unionist Cllr Alexander Redpath, said he was pleased with the outcome of Monday’s meeting.
“The committee heard evidence from our planning team, the applicant, objectors and local MLAs. Ultimately I believe the applicant and supporters put forward a very compelling case,” he said.
“The committee considered this application in detail and the councillors were fastidious in their questioning of the speakers. I believe councillors received a very balanced and thorough picture from all those who took the time to give evidence.”
A spokesman for the owner of the Jordan’s Mill site praised the committee for approving the application.
“I think it was a very good decision for the people of the town and all the shops in the area that have been suffering during this whole thing,” he commented.
The spokesman, from Ralph Parking Management, revealed that some reinstatement of equipment and other works will have to be carried out at the car park, but said they “hope to be open in two to three weeks time.”
Stressing that the owner’s longer term aim for the site remains a major residential/commercial development, he added: “This will allow time to progress the development and get investors on board.
“The plan is to have the development ready to go within the next two years.”
DUP MLA Edwin Poots, who spoke at Monday’s meeting in support of the application, believes the committee made the right decision.
“While the area around Jordan’s car park has been identified for redevelopment, due to the recession in construction that hasn’t been possible,” he said.
“I have always supported its use as a car park in the interim period and spoke on their behalf at the planning committee which, I believe, made the right decison to accept the request for a further two years of car parking at the site.
“The car park is extremely well used, convenient and the public have demonstrated their support for it in the past.
“I believe it will be an asset to the retailers in Lisburn city centre and is a real boost as we approach Christmas.”
While many people have welcomed the decision to approve the reopening of the car park, others are not so happy.
Alliance MLA Trevor Lunn, who spoke against the application during Monday’s meeting, described the committee’s decision as “ill advised” and warned that it could be “subject to review”.
• To read related story - Lunn slams ‘ill advised’ decision to reopen car park - click here.