Comment: City should start to reap St James reward

The current St James Centre. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor

The current St James Centre. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor

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FEW people will mourn the loss of the St James Centre when the bulldozers move in next year.

The Brutalist monstrosity has long been a blight on the city centre and it is no understatement to say that whatever goes in its place will be an improvement.

That’s not to say that the plans which got the go-ahead yesterday should not have been properly scrutinised and debated. The last thing anyone wants is to create another centre which will have to be torn down after much wrangling in 50 years time.

But this project has been subjected to intense scrutiny and debate already and is now in a position where we need to see it coming to fruition.

Yes, it would be nice to use sandstone instead of limestone but is this really a reason to hold up such a huge investment in the city?

Let’s remember what we currently have, after all – concrete. As we have already said this week, the view of this newspaper is that the proposed limestone building would enhance a city centre which already boasts a rich mix of building materials.

This is an immensely exciting development for the city and has been described as the single biggest improvement to happen in the World Heritage Site and city centre for decades.

Along with the removal of one of our biggest blots on the landscape, our retail offering, tourism and even the trams will benefit from this project going ahead.

There are still planning battles ahead and we expect the debate to continue as each stage of the development moves forward. That is a good thing and only right as we seek to shape the east end of the city centre for decades to come.

But now the big decision has been made. The type of blocks to be used will no longer be of the stumbling variety.

Let’s hope we progress as quickly as possible and the city starts to reap the rewards.