I couldn’t contain myself yesterday and ended up dandering past Castle Gardens, Lisburn looking over the town (sorry, I mean city)and tried to imagine what it would look like with some poly-tunnels for a mini-farm over the various terraces. Above is a quick rough sketch of what I had in mind. I’m not sure it would work, but the terraces below the main part of the park seem to me to be nothing but grass and walls.
Here’s where my imagination sometimes takes me.
If you are going to let Tesco, Dobbies, Sainsbury, M&S and John Lewis build huge stores on the outskirts of town fine – but charge them an environmental tax. Maybe that is included in the rates they pay to the council already etc, but my thinking is that if people should have to pay parking fees for the centre of Lisburn to cut down on congestion in the town centre, why shouldn’t they also pay to use car parks round the Sprucefield site which is often congested?
Or else drop the parking charges in town centres so that its not one rule for the big boys and another for the small retailers.
With the money raised through the environmental tax put a roof over Market Square and turn it into a proper sheltered market, like St. George’s Market so that you can have a market with shelter from the Northern Irish weather. Make this space an independent area with fair rates, not crazy over-priced rates.
Also build a little farm on Castle Gardens, so that it can supply good healthy, organic food in the area (maybe a vegetable box scheme?) to places like the Island Centre, Lisburn College, the schools. Maybe the college could run courses in conjunction with the farm and kids from local schools could come up and learn about growing vegetables, keeping chickens or looking after our dwindling natural resources. You could have cookery classes and a small cafe/shop supplying Fairtrade, organic things. You would need farmers to grow things so it would give a few people work. They could sell the produce down at the market as well.