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Sinn Féin welcome public inquiry into John Lewis plans

18 February, 2009

West Belfast and Lagan Valley Sinn Féin MLA's Jennifer McCann and Paul Butler have welcomed the announcement that there is to be a public inquiry into the development of the John Lewis store at Sprucefield.

Speaking following the announcement Ms McCann said:

"We would welcome that this proposal has been moved on and that it has now gone to a public inquiry. The application for the John Lewis store is now over four years old.

"In the currently economic downturn here is prime retail outlet which is being delayed time and time again. Today's announcement is good news. What we are seeing is that the developers wish to put everything out in the open and openly field any concerns that may still exist around the development.

Mr Butler continued:

"This development would bring significant benefits to West Belfast and in particular the Colin area, which suffers from high levels of unemployment. Over 2,000 job opportunities, both in construction and retail services would be made available through this development going ahead.

"In the interim period, we would like to see an upgrade in public transport links between Belfast and Lisburn as the current provision is inadequate. If John Lewis were eventually to get go ahead there would be a definite need to upgrade these services to allow for greater access for employees and customer in West Belfast and further afield using the department store."

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