PLANS to turn the Flagship Centre’s disused High Street entrance into the gateway to a new street food market have been approved by authorities.

The High Street entrance to the centre was shut to the public and sealed off after the last big name store pulled out of the northern wing of the Flagship towards the end of the old business’s life.

New owner Ricky McLarnon has now won planning permission to remodel and reopen the High Street entrance, which is currently nothing more than a blank wall running along the side of the Flagship building. It’s part of his plan to set up a street food market inside the centre, located in and around a unit that used to be occupied by a branch of Argos.

The market will have space for up to eight kitchens, and will be designed to link Bangor’s High Street with the shops planned for the Main Street end of the Flagship building. Mr McLarnon has previously spoken of his hope to host plenty of local businesses in the market, which will likely work on a similar approach to hit covered street food hubs in Belfast, the Common Market on Dunbar Street and Dublin Road’s new Trademarket.

Planners signed off on the Flagship remodelling work and food market project last week, a decision that was welcomed by Bangor Central councillor Alistair Cathcart. “It’s fantastic news that the Flagship Centre has received planning permission for a new entrance onto High Street and the change of use of the former Argos into a food and beverage destination,” he said. “This, coupled with the indoor Mill Row Market plans, marks the exciting first phase of the reimagining and regeneration of the Flagship Centre. “With the old Flagship, it was long considered an issue that it didn’t have real connectivity with High Street, so the centre didn’t flow or link up the two main central streets in Bangor. “It’s great that this is being addressed and, once later phases are open, it will be fantastic to be able to walk through the centre from Main to High Street.”

Mr Cathcart added that he wanted to pass on his congratulations to the Flagship’s new owners on winning planning permission for the first part of the centre’s rebirth. “I wish them every success as they continue to regenerate the Flagship and make it once again a destination building in the city centre,” he said. “I am sure that everyone in Bangor will be delighted to see the doors of the Flagship open once again.”