Competition is what allows a market to operate in the best interests of the consumer.
The perceived wisdom is that multiple outlets vying for a share of a market leads to product innovation and improved customer service levels and ensures the consumer gets a good deal.
That’s why it is known as a ‘healthy’ rivalry.
But a proposal to build a multiplex cinema, hotel and eateries on a vacant brownfield site at Dundee’s Greenmarket has put the cat among the pigeons.
Instead of welcoming potential new investment and greater choice in the market, the reaction has been a mix of outrage and, dare I say it, Nimby-ism.
The problem is the development site’s proximity to DCA, the city’s contemporary arts hub on Nethergate, and the potential negative impact of it having a rival cinema on its doorstep.
At the time of writing, more than 4,700 people had added their name to an online petition beginning with the phrase “do we really need another gargantuan cinema right next door to a well established cinema?”
The petition came as site developer Crucible Alba Group held a consultation over its multi-million pound proposals at the Malmaison Hotel.
The session was well attended and a mix of views were expressed.
But there’s no doubt DCA was the elephant in the room.
As a supporter and regular visitor to DCA, I understand the concerns.
But, at risk of excommunication from the arts community in Dundee, what I cannot do is stitch those fears together into a rational argument against the redevelopment of a major city centre gap site that has lain unused and unloved for years.
I’m afraid I simply do not accept the line being spun here.
When DCA was first mooted more than 20 years ago, I do not remember a similar outcry about the potential negative impact on established Perth Road businesses of the opening of a new, taxpayer supported, self-contained arts facility comprising a shop, pub, restaurant, two-screen cinema, events venues and exhibition spaces.
In fact, the polar opposite occurred.
When DCA eventually opened its doors in 1999 it was viewed – quite rightly – as a positive addition to the city on a cultural and commercial level.
At the minute, the Greenmarket site is a natural break between the redeveloped waterfront and the Perth Road.
It does not provide any incentive for visitors to go there – or explore further.
If the site is brought into use then it could just be the impetus needed to draw V&A tourists further into town.
Is it really impossible to imagine a high quality redevelopment of Greenmarket having a similar, positive halo effect on the area as DCA had?
And is it inconceivable a new facility could actually boost visitor numbers to DCA and increase spend in shops, pubs and other businesses in the area?
I don’t think so and Phoenix pub boss Alan Bannerman – who faced DCA’s challenge when it turned up on his doorstep and has now urged the arts centre to “man up” – obviously doesn’t either.
Perhaps it is a case of one person’s obstacle being another’s opportunity.