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Saturday, 19 June 2010

out of PLACE initiative will “enrich the city in the absence of retail”, says Michael Hegarty, Director of PLACE

Above: At the launch of out of PLACE in Belfast City Centre on Thursday were (L-R) Professor Bill Morrison (Chair of PLACE), Heather Carr (Arts & Business), Sammy Wilson MLA, MP (Minister for Finance and Personnel) and Mark Cunningham (Deramore Properties) - photography (c) Chris Neely

Press Release: 17th June 2010

PLACE, the Architecture and Built Environment Centre for Northern Ireland, has this week launched a new project called out of PLACE which seeks to make city centres fun, interesting and vibrant places to be - by taking over empty shop units.

Sammy Wilson, Minister for Finance and Personnel, opened the project, explaining: “The intention of this project is to bring life to parts of the city or other towns in Northern Ireland – in areas that may be struggling to find tenants to fill all the shops.” He went on to say that “it has a serious purpose in preventing a downward spiral of decline in once-thriving commercial areas.”

Michael Hegarty, PLACE Director said: “We now trade, socialise, relax, shop and meander through the streets of central Belfast mostly because we choose to. We can shop out-of-town or on-line, we can bank from home, work by phone and conduct our business with teleconferencing.

“The result of these changes in society is that there is less demand for city centre retail space than there was twenty years ago, and right at the time when people realise that they enjoy city centres. PLACE has now taken occupancy of a unit to show that other uses can enrich the city in the absence of retail, even if the absence is temporary.”

PLACE has a rich programme of activity to fill this space over the coming months. A vibrant mix of uses will encourage greater understanding of the city and its buildings and make the connection for people into the debate around how our city works. Some events will include debates, exhibitions, children's projects and festival uses - all freely and directly accessible by the public. This will highlight the unit location and encourage commercial operators to take over occupancy, in turn helping develop the commercial role of the city centre.

(ENDS)

Notes to Editors
- The first out of PLACE unit is made possible because of a partnership between PLACE and Deramore Properties, supported by Arts & Business NI. Other partners include Belfast City Council, Belfast City Centre Management and the Department of Finance & Personnel.

- The first out of PLACE unit is on Castle Lane, Belfast (next to Cornmarket)

- PLACE will be programming architecture events and cultural activities at Castle Lane throughout Summer 2010.

- PLACE is the Architecture and Built Environment Centre for Northern Ireland. The name is an acronym for Planning, Landscape, Architecture, Community and Environment, and these are the key areas PLACE investigates with its year-round programme of exhibitions, workshops lectures, community engagement projects and education programme.

For further information contact PLACE:
w: www.placeni.org
t: 028 9023 2524
e: info[AT]placeni[DOT]org

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