London property group to invest £50m in Sprucefield retail park

Firm believes venture could create 300 retail jobs

Sprucefield retail park

Sprucefield retail park

 

A London property group wants to invest £50 million to expand a retail park outside of Lisburn that is a popular destination for many shoppers from the Republic because of its location on the main Dublin-to-Belfast route.

Intu, which owns Sprucefield Park just off the A1 dual carriageway, wants to expand the retail park which it acquired for more than £68 million four years ago.

The park features one of the North’s largest Sainsbury’s stores and a range of other retailers but Intu believes that it is currently “under-utilised”.

The London group, which owns 20 centres across the UK and Spain, wants to develop additional shops, restaurants, cafes and an 80 bedroom hotel on the Sprucefield Park which first opened in 2003.

Intu believes its proposals could create more than 200 temporary construction jobs and an additional 300 retail jobs once the development is complete.

The property group has also confirmed that its latest proposal will not include any plans for a John Lewis store on the site.

The British retail group had at one stage been expected to anchor the Sprucefield Park but various plans for a John Lewis development have face stiff opposition from Lisburn businesses since they were first discussed 13 years ago.

Intu now intends to begin consulting local communities about its latest proposals for its only retail park in Northern Ireland and will subsequently lodge a full planning application.

However Retail NI, the umbrella group for independent retailers, has already said it will not support further out-of-town development.

Glyn Roberts, the organisation’s chief executive, said: “These proposals will draw trade and jobs away from Lisburn city centre and are in breach of the planning regulations which promote town centre first retail applications”

“Out of town retail belongs in the last century. The future is 21st century town and city centres that have a dynamic mix of retail and hospitality”.