It’s been about six weeks since I heard anything about the future of the seven shops on the Newtownards Road owned by the Eames family. Back in the middle of February, one of the shopkeepers gloomily acknowledged that no talks had yet taken place.
This Monday’s Newsletter ran a story suggesting that this East Belfast dispute may now be heading towards a positive conclusion.
The unconfirmed reports say that
“Lord Eames is considering extending the lease of his seven tenants by another 10 years – a move that could cost him around £2m.”
This would be instead of selling the buildings to the current tenants or to a property developer (who would almost certainly not extend the lease of the seven family-run businesses).
“Reports now suggest an agreement has been reached, with Lord Eames apparently prepared to extend the leases instead of selling up. Proprietor of chip shop the Hot Spot John McBlain said he was unable to confirm the claim, but he did say meetings with Lord Eames had been ‘positive’.
‘I am hopeful this will be resolved within the next two weeks,’ he added.”
Update: And since then it seems like some of the leases have now been extended, giving long-term security to the shop owners, and resolving the issue for a long time.