Belfast City Council gives the go ahead for the controversial Tribeca development…

Belfast City Council’s planning committee has given the go-ahead for the 500million pound Tribeca development in the Cathedral Quarter. The development is your usual mix of shops, offices, apartments and restaurants. The developer has a fancy website where you can see all the details.

I have a lot of sympathy for the Save the Cathedral Quarter Campaign but that area has been very run down for years and something does need to be done.

The reduction of Writers Square is no great loss to the city as it is one of the most spectacularly ugly public spaces you will ever come across. It is a handy venue for Culture Night, but don’t get me started on how that great event has descended into a teen drinking extravaganza.

I really do wonder do we need more shops? With a lot of retail units lying empty in Belfast City centre already will there be the demand? I find it incomprehensible and obscene in equal measures that people can shop so much and buy so much. Our addiction to fast fashion and useless tat is literally destroying the planet. But I have long since realised I am not the target market for pretty much anything.

tribeca development

Belfast City Council carried out research some years ago that said that Belfast did not have enough high-end retailers. It seemed well-heeled locals desire more designer brands and high-end boutiques. I imagine this is the market they will be going after for this development, so don’t expect a new Poundland to be opening there any time soon. If you doubt the demand for such rich pickings, know this – in the week before Christmas the Apple Store in Victoria Square was taking in over a million pounds a day. While we are generally a low wage economy we do also have quite a lot of high earners with disposable incomes – just witness the number of BMWs on our roads.

So despite my own personal abhorrence over conspicuous consumption, I actually think this development will be a success. It looks quite nice from the mockups and frankly, anything is an improvement on what is there now.

But Belfast City Council does need a strategy to support small retailers and startups. Independent retailers add individuality and character to a city and they need to be encouraged as much as possible.

I would also like to see the ugly monstrosity that is Castle Court raised to the ground and an urban park put in its place, but I imagine that will not happen anytime soon.

There was a shopping mall
Now it’s all covered with flowers
You’ve got it, you’ve got it

Talking Heads – [Nothing But] Flowers

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Lastly whatever you do not press play on this promo video voiced by Jamie Dornan. I can’t be held responsible if you smash your phone throwing it at the wall…

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