A warning has been issued that Derry is in danger of becoming a “doughnut city” with satellite retail developments surrounding a hollowed out centre.
The warning comes ahead of Derry City Councillors receiving representatives from the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) at the monthly Planning Committee meeting this afternoon.
Councillors will be asked to oppose plans for a major new retail and housing complex at Crescent Link because of the impact it could have on the city centre.
Those behind the £45m North West One project however have said it could bring hundreds of jobs, and a raft of new facilities for the city, including a food store, cinema, housing, restaurants, cafes and family-friendly facilities.
NIIRTA chief executive Glyn Roberts however said that the retail aspects of the plan should be redirected.
“Our consistent position is that we do not want Derry to become a doughnut citywide all the retailers are on the outskirts of the town, and the city centre has been hollowed out. We are very much of the view that there should be a town centre approach first.”
Mr Roberts claimed that the development would not create a single job in the long-term, arguing that it would just displace existing jobs in the city centre.
He also said there were already planning permissions for two major superstores in Crescent Link.
“We want Derry City Council to stand up for the city centre and stand up for the local traders that work so hard. The Council has a key role to play as the only statutory committee consulted on this.
“Derry has a very high vacancy rate in the city centre and we do not want doughnut Derry.”
He added that NIIRTA had been the first business organisation to back Derry becoming the first Enterprise Zone, and said they wanted to see a Regeneration Commissioner introduced to co-ordinate the city’s development.
The ultimate decision on North West One will be made by Environment Minister Mark H Durkan.