What should be done with town centres?

by on 14th August 2018

The list of big businesses that have crashed in the past twenty years makes for quite grim reading: Woolworth’s, BHS, Littlewoods, Maplins, Toys R Us, with others having to restructure and slim to survive: M and S, HMV, Jessops and Mothercare being three examples.

What’s caused it?

People’s habits have obviously changed – the days of wandering a town or city for individual products are over it seems when Amazon, Gumtree and eBay as well as online shops from M and S, John Lewis, PC World, Tesco, Asda, Iceland and so on and so on, mean you never have to leave your house.

What this has done though for town centres is create a vacuum. Those mammoth stores like the Gelderd Road one in Birstall occupy a huge land footprint and given that we’re constantly told that housing demand outstrips supply, why doesn’t some one in government grasp the nettle and transform town and city centres, retail and industrial parks into mixed use?

If you think of the volume of homes that could fit in an empty BHS or an abandoned Toys R Us, there would be no crisis in supply, would there?

House on Fraser on Briggate has been rescued but Poundworld lost 4 stores in Leeds.

It’s sad to see store closures and job losses, but if towns and cities, industrial and retail parks are to reinvent themselves, increasing footfall, perhaps it’s now time for councils and governments to rejuvenate them by adding residential spaces.

What do you think?

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