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Sprucefield Park complex

Sprucefield is a major out-of-town retail park in the townland of Magherageery, County Down, Northern Ireland. It is on the southern edge of Lisburn; about one mile from the middle of Lisburn and ten miles (16 km) from the middle of Belfast. Sprucefield is located beside the M1 motorway and the A1 road. It is split in two parts: the Sprucefield Centre and Sprucefield Park.

Sprucefield is also the site of the Lisnagarvey transmitting station.

Sprucefield Centre

Sprucefield Centre was developed by Marks and Spencer on the site of Lisnagarvey Hockey Club and opened in March 1989.[1] The proximity to the radio transmitter required the centre to be built as a Faraday cage to protect electronic equipment from the mast's electromagnetic field.[2] Sprucefield Centre includes shops such as Marks and Spencer, Next, Pets At Home and Boots.

The centre was virtually destroyed in January 1991 in an IRA incendiary attack. Three of four stores were destroyed, (MFI, Allied Maples and Texas), while the Marks and Spencer wing suffered only water damage.[3]

An expansion of Marks and Spencer has been reported for many years. An outline planning application was submitted in 1995, followed by a public inquiry in 1999. The Planning Service recommended the proposal be accepted. If built the extension calls for the demolition and resiting of the transmitter station, although these plans never went ahead. In August 2007, Marks and Spencer opened a large homeware section (second largest in the UK after Manchester) on the Sprucefield site in what had been the adjoining Homebase shop. Homebase's lease on the building was not renewed by M&S who own the entire complex. M&S also upgraded its anchor store with a new café, better lighting and customer friendly walkways. The expansion of their Sprucefield store makes it the largest store in Ireland and the third largest in the United Kingdom.

Sprucefield Park

Sprucefield Park was opened in 2003, with Sainsbury's and B&Q as anchor tenants. There are four smaller units; one of which is occupied by Currys, one by Argos, one by Next Home and the last by Toys 'R' Us. The 21,500m2 (231,426 ft2) project was managed by a Stannifer/Snoddons Construction joint venture. Stannifer is a British property development company, while the latter is a construction company based in Hillsborough, County Down. Construction was carried out by McLaughlin & Harvey.[4] Stannifer took ownership of the site, while it retained a 50% share of the proposed second phase. In 2004 The Westfield Group acquired Stannifer's parent (Chelsfield) and took control of the company's shares in Sprucefield Park.

Sprucefield Park (like the Sprucefield Centre) has faced major objections at almost every stage. Sainsbury's announced its move into Northern Ireland on 20 June 1995[5] and opened its first stores in 1997, however it would be eight years before its Sprucefield store was opened. An application for outline planning permission was submitted in July 1998 and final permission was granted in February 2001.[6] The planning permission for the centre also included a multiplex cinema and a 150-bed hotel, however these have yet to be built. Lisnagarvey Hockey Club, which sold its pitches to Marks and Spencer for its development in 1989, had again to relocate when it sold its pitches to the developers of Sprucefield Park.[1]

In December 2004 the B&Q store was extensively damaged by an incendiary device. The store was closed for approximately six months.[7] In January 2005 another firebomb was discovered in the centre's Sainsbury's store, however this was successfully defused. Both incidents, and others such as the destruction of a Next store at Forestside Shopping Centre in Belfast, were blamed on dissident republicans.[8]

In September 2015 B&Q announced that its Sprucefield branch was one of five Northern Ireland stores that it will close.[9]

Second phase

In June 2004 the developers announced plans for a 220,000 sq ft (20,000 m2) John Lewis department store and 29 additional units on the site. Despite objections from Lisburn retailers and the Belfast Chamber of Commerce the development was given approval in June 2005 by then Northern Ireland Environment Minister Jeff Rooker.[10] However, in October 2005 six parties opposed to the development won the right to seek a judicial review of the planning permission. These parties were Belfast City Council, Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce, Lisburn Chamber of Commerce, the owners of Lisburn's Bow Street Mall, Central Craigavon Limited and AM Developments Limited (AM Developments is building the Victoria Square centre in Belfast city centre). On 10 May 2006 the appeal was upheld, effectively removing planning permission. However the judge, Mr Justice Girvan, said he was not ruling on the merits of the store itself, rather on the way the decision to grant permission was taken. This allowed a new planning application to be submitted.[11]

Westfield and Snoddens' reaffirmed their commitment to pursuing planning permission in November 2006 after a new legal challenge by Central Craigavon Ltd., owners of the Rushmere Shopping Centre.[12] Westfield detailed its new planning application on 28 August 2008. The number of additional retail units planned was reduced from 29 to 19, however the developers conceded that the proposal is "ostensibly the same" at a total floor space of approximately 50,000 square metres (540,000 sq ft).[13]

In March 2014 Westfield agreed to sell Sprucefield Park to Intu Properties plc for £70 million.[14]


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  4. Retail – Sprucefield Park. Accessed on 28 June 2007.
  5. O'Kane, Paul, Sainsbury's to invest £100m in 7 new outlets in North. Irish Times 21 June 1995
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  13. Manley, John. "Sprucefield plans 'little changed'" Irish News. p.54. 29 August 2008
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External links

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