Derry traders concerned over out of town shopping centres say they were “given a fair hearing” by the First and Deputy First Minister at Stormont on Monday.
The meeting was organised by the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) and comprised of a delegation made up of representatives from over a dozen different local business organisations including the Derry/Londonderry City Centre Traders Forum. The traders raised several key concerns of the future of retail in city centres, most notably their fears over the threat posed by out of town retail centres for which there are nine live planning applications awaiting decision in Derry.
Speaking to the ‘Journal’ on behalf of the Derry City Centre Traders Forum, Eamonn Gee, said the Parliament Buildings meeting was worthwhile.
He said: “We got a good hearing, the ministers were very receptive,” Mr Gee said. “There were three main issues raised by every body represented and those issues are the same in towns across Northern Ireland: plans for out of town shopping centres, lack of adequate parking and rates variance.”
“The First and Deputy First Ministers promised to look at the issues and report back to us.”
Traders have warned of further job losses if something isn’t done to rejuvenate Derry city centre and halt further out of town retail developments. Earlier this year, they called for the city centre to be made a special enterprise zone and proposed a five-point plan to boost investment.