Trevor Lunn MLA said: “The Minister’s announcement today is bad news for Lisburn, Greater Belfast and Northern Ireland. Mr Atwood can justify his decision however he chooses but it is a fact, confirmed on many occasions by the developers and the John Lewis consortium that they are not interested in any sites in here except Sprucefield.
“The notion that they can be redirected to Belfast is unrealistic and frankly arrogant. After nine years of consideration, to change the rules in this way beggars belief and I would implore the other Executive ministers to get involved and not allow this major decision to stand.
“We are about to effectively turn down the biggest name in UK retailing, a great company, and a desperately needed boost to the construction industry, and watch as it either goes to the Republic or nowhere on the island. John Lewis have been enormously patient and I frankly despair of a system which can take nine years to produce such a plainly perverse outcome.”