We’re getting a new shopping centre in Belfast. The Royal Exchange project which has just been approved by Alex Attwood will have one large anchor tenant for retail and other shops and apartments etc around it.
So what, we’ll get another Victoria Square type creation? More chain shops that you can see in every other town in the UK?
More homogenised, bland, uninteresting places to shop ’n’ snack ‘n’ watch ’n’ snack ’n’ snack ’n’ snack ’n’ live ’n’ shop ’n’ snack?
Has AA walked around Titanic Quarter and enjoyed THAT thriving retail/living/entertainment experience?
One wee corner shop and a cafe (that was closed the evening I passed it), the only signs of life among all the other empty lots?
We’re over-supplied with chain shops. Why not restore the area with lots of low rent independent boutiques selling arts and crafts and food and clothes designed by small-sized enterpreneurs, desperate to get their goods to market?
Give shoppers an ‘experience’ that is different to that of Nottingham or Glasgow or Hull.
Give people who have creative skills a chance to display those skills. And create profit for local people that will go back into our local economy.
Nobody ever said, “Oh let’s fly over to Belfast, they have a great Marks & Spencer shop!” Let’s give them something to talk’n’shop about.