31/10/2005

Minister points to 'excellent' development opportunities

Excellent retail opportunities are available in towns and cities across Northern Ireland, Minister for Social Development David Hanson has said.

Welcoming delegates at the British Council of Shopping Centres (BCSC) annual conference he said: "Retail is a key ingredient of our approach to regeneration, bringing shops, jobs and homes back into towns and cities, where they belong. We want to bring these centres up to the level and quality of retail provision enjoyed by similar centres across the UK and Europe.

"The BCSC conference will showcase the opportunities that exist across Northern Ireland to leading investment decision-makers and influencers from the retail, leisure and property sectors. That will be good for business and good for Northern Ireland."

The Minister announced two exciting new development opportunities in Coleraine: "The opportunities in the town are significant - a recent report identified capacity for an additional 250,000 square feet of retail space by 2011 and substantial housing and leisure growth is planned in the coming years.

"The two publicly owned car parks at Abbey Street and The Mall in the heart of the town centre present a tremendous opportunity to influence the way Coleraine develops over the next 25 years. The right development on the sites will strengthen the town's retail offer, help to develop an evening economy and address the current parking shortfall."

Mr Hanson also highlighted the regeneration potential of Londonderry and the breadth of opportunities on offer further afield. He said: "As the largest urban centre outside Belfast, Derry is a major employment location and a regional centre for administration and public services, transportation, retail and commerce. Derry's excellent development opportunities and its competitive location for investment create an exciting agenda for the next phase of regeneration in the city.

"Fort George and Ebrington, two former military bases comprising some 40 acres and located on the river front within the central area of the city, are now available for redevelopment. The prominence and development possibilities of these sites offer once-in-a-generation opportunities to quite literally reshape the face and balance of Derry's central area.

"Beyond this there are 40 smaller cities and towns ranging in size from 5,000 to 70,000 residents accounting for almost 80% of the population. There are major retail developments underway or planned in many of these towns and cities but there are other areas still ripe for regeneration."

(SP/MB)

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