Belfast Telegraph

Banking on future

Editor's Viewpoint

Belfast's Lord Mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir deserves credit for starting a debate on what to do with the closed bank branches which are dotted throughout the province. Simply letting them lie empty only causes dereliction and a sense that town centres are being run down.

As he says, surely they can be converted to other uses, possibly as low-cost homes or social enterprises, or even as new residential sites.

But the banks are just part of a wider issue. With one in five former retail properties now lying vacant, it is obvious that commercial tenants are not about to flock back into town centres.

Why not follow the European model and create more homes in the middle of towns? If the centres have a growing residential population, then businesses could be enticed back.

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