Image: One of the existing buildings in Cathedral Quarter, Belfast
A new campaign group – #SaveCQ – has been formed in Cathedral Quarter to galvanise public awareness of the current proposal for the new Royal Exchange development in Belfast city centre.
The #SaveCQ campaign, which is made up of independent businesses, arts organisations and members of the community, is calling upon Castlebrooke Investments to “Develop, Not Demolish” Cathedral Quarter in Belfast.
Under the current Royal Exchange redevelopment proposal, almost 12 acres of city centre buildings purchased by Castlebrooke Investments (London) from Cerberus last year, which were formerly part of the NAMA portfolio, could be demolished and replaced by retail units and tower blocks, permanently changing the face and character of our city centre and having a huge impact on the Cathedral Quarter, one of Belfast’s most vibrant, historic and culturally significant areas.
Campaign supporter and playwright Martin Lynch, who came up with the original idea for the Cathedral Quarter back in 1995 said:
“Obviously, we welcome any serious investment into the area but the current Royal Exchange proposal is ill-conceived on many levels and would have a devastating effect on the Cathedral Quarter as we know it, if planning permission for the proposal in its current form were to be granted by Belfast City Council. While the campaign fully recognises that this part of Cathedral Quarter needs redevelopment, we firmly believe that any authorised redevelopment should complement, enhance and integrate with Cathedral Quarter, working with the unique and valuable built and cultural heritage which exists in the area, rather than against it.”
Commenting on the commercial aspect of the current Royal Exchange redevelopment proposal for local, independent businesses in the Cathedral Quarter area, Richard Mackey of Mackey Opticians on North Street said:
“We would be grateful for regeneration in this area, but we are now on the fourth plan that I have seen in the last 30 years and none have come to fruition. We would like to see more small units, to bring it back to the way it was 30 years ago, rather than a copy of Donegall Place.
We would really welcome something which was suitable for independent traders, which offered something different for people to go to and which was not a copy of Manchester or any other city that has had schemes like the one being currently proposed.”
The Royal Exchange redevelopment proposal is now at pre-planning application stage and members of the public have until Monday 3 April 2017 to lodge their objections to the current scheme.
Campaign spokesperson Rebekah McCabe from Township NI said: “We are urgently calling on members of the public who care about the Cathedral Quarter in any way – whether they live, work, shop or socialise there – to object to this proposal immediately.
“We have made it very easy to do – simply visit the campaign website at www.savecq.wordpress.com and follow the instructions to send your email to the three addresses listed there.”
For further information on the #SaveCQ campaign, join the discussion at https://www.facebook.com/saveCQBelfast/, #SaveCQ on Twitter or visit www.savecq.wordpress.com