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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 July 2007, 13:26 GMT 14:26 UK
Developers revise John Lewis plan
John Lewis store
John Lewis was given planning permission to locate at Sprucefield
The developer behind a controversial application for a John Lewis store and 29 shops in County Antrim is revising its multi-million pound plans.

Westfield, which is behind the scheme, has withdrawn its current plans and will submit an alternative to planners.

This would still involve the John Lewis chain but a smaller number of shops.

Plans for a store at Sprucefield and 29 adjoining units were given the go-ahead more than two years ago, overturned, resubmitted then approved again.

Last month, a High Court judge approved a second judicial review of the government's decision.

The opponents of the scheme include the chambers of commerce in Lisburn and Belfast, and a group of shopping centres including the Rushmere in Craigavon, Bow St Mall in Lisburn and the new Victoria Square in Belfast.

On Wednesday, a spokesperson on behalf of the five parties said: "This is a welcome decision which avoids an unnecessary legal action and helps to re-focus on the bigger issue; the protection and enhancement of Northern Ireland's town and city centres.

"The John Lewis interest in Northern Ireland is very welcome but we invite them to look at urban centres here, as they do in the rest of the United Kingdom."

The legal action has already cost the taxpayer at least 200,000.

The developers said the scheme could create up to 2,000 jobs.

Peter Miller, director of development design and construction at Westfield said they were committed to the project and delivering "an exciting retail experience" at Sprucefield.

"It will bring new shopping opportunities, reversing the flow of spending out of Northern Ireland to other centres in the rest of the UK and Ireland, ensuring that Northern Ireland can compete with its neighbours," he said.

New review over John Lewis store
05 Jun 07 |  Northern Ireland
Green light for John Lewis store
23 Mar 07 |  Northern Ireland
Plan to protect town centre shops
14 Jul 06 |  Northern Ireland
Minister delays draft retail plan
18 Aug 05 |  Northern Ireland

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