It is time to ‘re-imagine’ Derry city centre

Derry’s city centre must be much more than just somewhere to shop.Derry’s city centre must be much more than just somewhere to shop.
Derry’s city centre must be much more than just somewhere to shop.
Derry’s city centre must be radically ‘reimagined’ if it is to have a viable future post pandemic.

This is the stark warning from Paul Clancy, the chief executive of Derry’s Chamber of Commerce, who is convinced the city’s commercial heart must become much more than just somewhere to shop.

He says the Covid-19 pandemic has underlined the need to redesign public spaces that place people at their heart.

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He told the ‘Journal’ this week: “This means providing more open and green space, more outdoor seating, prioritising active travel and pedestrians, and making our town centres much more than somewhere just to shop.

“People want their town centres to be thriving hubs of business and entrepreneurship but they also want them to be much more experience-focused places where they can spend time beyond shopping. Town centres and high streets need urgently revitalised to protect jobs, protect businesses, and breathe fresh life into our community centres.”

His comments coincide with the latest blow to the local economy with the collapse of the Arcadia group and the planned closure of Debenhams’ local store at Foyleside Shopping Centre. It’s understood the outlet employs around 100 people. 

Paul Clancy says the loss of Debenhams and the Arcadia Group is a blow to the high street, the regional economy, and local households.

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He added: “As the flagship store of the NW’s largest shopping centre, the collapse of Debenhams is a major shock to our retail sector but, sadly, it is indicative of the huge pressures on retailers and the high street at the moment. 

“The closure of well-known stores like Topshop, Topman and Burton is further proof of the challenges facing our regional economy at the moment. While we are hopeful other companies will fill these units over the coming months, it doesn’t take away from the urgent fact that over 100 people will be losing their jobs this Christmas. The Executive must urgently engage with these businesses to ensure that affected workers are treated fairly and that redundancy packages reach employees as swiftly as possibly.”