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Future hopes for the High Street

Future hopes for the High Street

March 26, 2019

Keynote Speaker and Retail Futurist Howard Saunders led a panel of experts at the ‘Sharing Experience, Shaping the Future’ regeneration conference, hosted by Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council, yesterday (25 March 2019).

With his high energy delivery and engaging content Howard spoke about how: “Our town centres are in the middle of a revolution as retailers collapse under pressure from all sides.”

Howard believes that: “Our cities, towns and high streets globally are in a state of flux as large, corporate chains contract and customers switch to online.  But hope is out there waiting in the wings to bring us much more vibrant, local economies…if only we can work together to make it happen.”  He added: “I believe Lisburn is better placed than most to adapt and create a thriving local economy.”

The conference brought influential figures together to share a positive insight into the future of urban regeneration and place shaping across the UK, focusing on Northern Ireland.  Head of Economics, Richard Laming and Director of Strategic Communications, John Davison from Planning and Development Consultancy Turley presented their vision for the future of town centres while Steve Peel of the Urban Innovation Company gave an insight into the opportunities for developing Smart Cities.  Pioneering initiatives in Lisburn City Centre were also explored with award-winning Sarah Munn, founder and owner of community space Penny Square.

Welcoming delegates the Mayor, Councillor Uel Mackin, said: “To host this forward-thinking conference in Lisburn shows the council’s commitment to shaping the future of our urban landscape.  The advice from all our speakers today is that we need to change our way of thinking in terms of reinventing our town and city centres and that the high street is far from dead. It is very encouraging to hear so much positivity from all our experts today.”

Chairman of the Council’s Development Committee, Alderman William Leathem, commented: “Thinking creatively and working alongside the private sector is key to driving forward a new future where people come together for many reasons in our city centres and towns.  I believe that as a council we are paving the way for re-thinking how our city and town centres will once again become the heart of the community.  We have demonstrated this with the development of our community- spaces, offering a diverse arts and cultural programme, our forward-thinking events such as our Lisburn Light Festival as well as offering business support for our retailers and other SMEs.  Howard is right; if we work together we can make things happen and I am pleased that Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council is staying ahead of the game for urban planning and place shaping.  Thank you to all the speakers for a really insightful morning.  The optimism for the future of urban spaces needs to be translated into actions by leading authorities such as local councils working with stakeholders and the private sector.  This approach will ensure that our urban spaces will be transformed for generations to come.”

The Lisburn City Centre Masterplan is currently out for consultation. It identifies key areas that, when regenerated, will have a positive impact on our urban landscape.  Building upon our current assets and better connecting our city will deliver a better place for everyone to enjoy.  We would encourage you to view the Masterplan and let us know your views before 12 April so we can shape Lisburn City Centre together.  The plan and short survey can be viewed at: https://surveys.lisburncastlereagh.gov.uk/s/LCCCMasterplanConsultation/