Calls for further pedestrianisation to help shops in Lisburn post-lockdown following Market Square success
Green Party Cllr Simon Lee said he recently held a ‘walkabout’ meeting with Lisburn Chamber of Commerce and had “identified a few pockets around the town centre” that could transform Lisburn city centre.
He said: “The council is cognisant of the challenges businesses in Lisburn and Castlereagh face as we emerge from the Covid crisis. I do however see grounds for optimism with footfall close to pre-pandemic levels in Lisburn city centre, and exciting new businesses opening, particularly in Lisburn square.
“Council had already agreed to place a marquee in Market Square for visitors to eat lunch outdoors, or enjoy a coffee. Other businesses have followed suit and this has been a great success.
“On a more permanent basis however, I have identified a few pockets around the town centre that could do with an injection of colour, and where parklets could be deployed to attract footfall.
“The area where Bridge Street meets Market square has space, and would really benefit from this investment.
“In conjunction with this Lisburn has a number of well used alleyways at locations like Haslem’s Lane, Bow Lane and Castle Gardens that we could take some inspiration from Belfast in greening and turning into exciting features.
“We have seen how the iconic lights and umbrellas around Commercial Court in the Cathedral Quarter have become an attraction in themselves. Lisburn has the potential to develop similar spaces.
“This is something I am keen to progress to help bring more life, and help develop a night-time economy in Lisburn.
“The high street is changing, and Lisburn city centre must diversify with a blended use that includes not only retail, but enhance the excellent hospitality we have on offer, and further develop our art scene.”
Lisburn Chamber of Commerce said that preliminary discussions had been held with Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council in order to improve a number of issues in the centre.
Lisburn Chamber President, Garry MacDonald said: “Lisburn Chamber of Commerce is looking forward to working closely with Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council to help regenerate Lisburn city centre.
“We see opportunities in the short term that can help our local retail and hospitality businesses in particular, recover in the post-Covid period. One of our ideas is to improve the appearance of some of our alleyways and follow the examples in Belfast that Councillor Lee has mentioned.
“As a result of regular dialogue with Council Officers, we are planning to launch a new City Centre Partnership in the near future.
“This will see the coming together of key stakeholders to drive forward improvements to help a programme of revitalisation for our city centre economy.”
Meanwhile, LCCC started a new initiative this week that allows shoppers three hours of parking for £1 in off-street car parks.
Alliance Cllr and Chair of the Development committee, Amanda Grehan said it was a “wonderful first step” towards enticing shoppers into Lisburn city centre again.
“[The council] has also been working with Lisburn Chamber of Commerce and Retail NI to lobby the Department for Infrastructure to change the current on-street parking charges in Lisburn Castlereagh to one hour of free parking,” said Cllr Grehan.
“While we continue our work to make this possible, we’re encouraging our local community to take advantage of the low rates within LCCC car parks and shop locally.
“As we come out of lockdown restrictions, supporting our local business owners has never been more important.
“We’re excited to welcome shoppers back to the city centre to enjoy the great customer service, value for money and diverse range of retail offerings available.”
The offer is available in six council car parks: Antrim Street, Queen’s Road, Barrack Street, Smithfield Square, Governors Road and Laganbank.
Reporter: Shaun Keenan