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Number of vacant town centre buildings nears the 50 mark
The figure, based on a survey carried out by a local estate agent, has risen by 25 percent in the past six months.
High street chain Birthdays recently became the latest victim of the recession, vacating its Castle Street store. The closure came just months after neighbouring Priceless pulled the shutter on its town centre store.
Eileen McGarrigle of Harte and McGarrigle Estate Agents revealed this week that since January they have had just five queries about town centre property. And the forecast for the future is less than bright, with Mrs McGarrigle predicting that the bleak trend will continue unless urgent action is taken. She said something needed to be done if the fortunes of Strabane’s town centre are to improve.
“We should be doing something to create a bit of momentum in the town,” the estate agent said.
“There are dozens of buildings lying empty and dilapidated across the town and it looks terrible.
“We need to start with at the very least a clean up of the town centre. We need to get some of these empty buildings painted and brightened up, just to create a bit of enthusiasm about the town.
“I honestly don’t see how business is going to improve with the way things are the minute. There needs to be some incentive for people to come into Strabane and it just isn’t there.
“There are enough bodies out there to make it happen and we need them to step in and start creating a better atmosphere about the town. Invest NI, the Chamber of Commerce, Strabane District Council, Strabane 2000, the new Strabane Town Centre Forum, they all have a vested interest in making this happen but where are they?
“We are only months away from Derry’s City of Culture year and I don’t see how we are going to pick up any knock on business with the way things are in Strabane at the minute,” Mrs McGarrigle said.
Railway Street has more vacant properties than any other according to the survey, followed closely by Castle Street, Main Street and Abercorn Square.