Sinn Féin Councillor John Brady has welcomed the purchase of the site of the proposed Florentine Shopping Centre off the town’s Main Street for €1.95m. He has stated that it now gives the council the opportunity to revive the town’s retail industry but also to address the town’s social infrastructure such as social housing and providing a cinema for the town.
Speaking after the deal was concluded with Grant Thornton on Wednesday, December 18 Councillor Brady said “I must welcome the fact that the Council has been proactive on this issue and has purchased the site which has been the cause of a 17 year saga which ripped the heart out of the town. The failure to develop this site over that period has played a huge role in the demise of Bray as a destination for retail shopping.”
Brady continued “Now that Bray Town Council owns the site we must sit down and look carefully at what the town actually needs in terms of retailing and social infrastructure. The Florentine Centre was expected to open its doors to the public in the autumn of 2006 and included plans for almost 100 apartments, 25 retail outlets and 600 parking spaces. The question need to be asked is that still what Bray needs.”
“I believe this gives us an opportunity to look at Bray and what it has to offer and then in the future what we can provide that isn’t out there already and to build something that's sustainable into the future. I don’t think we can or should try competing with the likes of the Dundrum’s. Yes it would be nice to get a few big retailing names in as anchor tenants into the new Florentine, but I think we should be trying to find a niche in the market and to try target that.”
“I do think the town needs a cinema and this should be given careful consideration, since the one in the town closed in 2007 people have to travel to places like Dun Laoghaire and Dundrum. There is also an opportunity for the council to try tackling the housing crisis in the town by providing some social housing as part of the development. In the last planning permission that was given there were nearly 100 apartments included, the council and whoever they find as a partner to develop the site must include integrated housing to try tackle the housing crisis that exists.” continued Brady.
He concluded by saying “Hopefully we are in the final chapter in this terrible saga which has held Bray back for so long. We need to move forward with purpose, we shouldn’t rush into developing something for the sake of it. We will only get one opportunity at developing something that will be at the heart of Bray, something that will make Bray the place people will want to come to, something that will be sustainable into the future and we need to get it right.”