Just south of the Temple Bar district, spread across three parallel streets is Dublin’s Creative Quarter. The area has a history of boutiques and specialist design; during the 19th Century this part of the city was a hub for the fabric trade. Back in March 2012 they decided to re-vamp the area and bring it back to it’s former glory, attracting independent businesses and artisans.
The Creative quarter is now a hot-bed for innovative local establishments, and has become home to an eclectic mix of cafes, restaurants, galleries, designer shops, boutiques and bars. They have nestled into the old buildings and although they may look a little rough around the edges, they’re holding onto the history and character of the old town. One business has moved into an old rag factory, and street art has been commissioned to revitalise the area. (Remind you of anywhere?!)
Dublin is a relatively small city centre just like us here in Belfast, but it’s managed to create a new district from nowhere, having only a cluster of streets and a lot of imagination to work with. It would be fantastic to see the Cathedral Quarter follow in Dublin’s footsteps and encourage local businesses into the area without the threat from large corporations. With the regeneration of the art college in full swing, throwing locally run artisan stores, cafes, and restaurants into the mix would be an incredible addition to the area, don’t you think?
Basically how it works is any business within the city can submit their ideas, which they feel will help to improve their trading environment. If the chamber agrees, the businesses in that district can vote whether they would like to make the proposed changes happen or not. The three areas that the project is aimed towards are promotion, enhancement and support.
The promotion is to increase the number of people who visit Belfast. This includes branding the city centre, promoting events more effectively, making more availability for car parking and lowering the costs and improving the clarity of opening hours. They’re also looking at promoting the evening economy to encourage people to stay in the city after work, or to visit during the evenings.
The enhancement is to ensure that everyone who visits the city has a first class experience. Safety is high on their list, and talk of a ‘retail crime-watch’, night-time volunteers, management for the homeless community and additional funding for the PSNI city centre beat are all changes that have been suggested so far.
Improvement to cleaning works provided by the council has also been proposed. This includes additional cleaning works, planting and lighting. The instalment of floral displays to improve the atmosphere and enhance the city brand has been voiced by local businesses. We’re getting awfully metropolitan now aren’t we?!
The support they have put forward for small businesses include services and utilities to help save them money, to have a collective voice for the business community and monitor the health and vitality of the city centre.
There are so many amazing buildings around town; all you have to do is look up. A power-hose and a lick of paint would instantly transform the shop fronts, and moving in new businesses or pop-ups would immediately bring a new lease of live to the tired old buildings and revitalise their grandeur no-end.
Are we finally going to have a say? Or is it all too good to be true?
I can see tree-lined streets, hanging baskets in full bloom, benches and vertical gardens stretching up towards the clouds, upcycled sculptures, free bus rides on public holidays and street parties galore.. I’m getting carried away aren’t I?! #sorrynotsorry
Let us know your thoughts in the comments!
This is the last blog post until after the holidays guys, and it's Tommy's birthday tomorrow (hard to believe he's over a quarter of a century!) We'll catch you again on the 22nd of July! x