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I saw this pic today of St Helens' town centre. The last year has been brutal on town centres and really accelerated the previous decline. Is there a way back? Do people want it back?

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The best suggestion I’ve seen for revitalising town centre is to move people back in. Turn the big boarded up retail spaces into apartments and flats. Hoping that will encourage restaurants cafes and

Facts that aren't true aren't facts. There are c.900 asylum seekers housed in Stoke. There are over 5,600 in London. 5,600 is a bigger number than 900 and London is south of Stoke.

In the late 90’s I worked in the Planning and Regeneration Department of Wakefield MDC when an application was submitted for the Freeport Development - now called Junction 32 that now includes XScape

1 hour ago, ckn said:

I saw this pic today of St Helens' town centre. The last year has been brutal on town centres and really accelerated the previous decline. Is there a way back? Do people want it back?

Image

Rotherham is very similar.... a desperate place with little cohesion of thought or any real direction from the local authority and no obvious desire from the populous of a grimey northern town so indicative of post industrial blight to effectively change things.

It's a sh it hole and nobody knows or seemingly cares what to do next. The decline continues 

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1 hour ago, ckn said:

I saw this pic today of St Helens' town centre. The last year has been brutal on town centres and really accelerated the previous decline. Is there a way back? Do people want it back?

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This is the price of a retail park. I think managed decline would be the best option.

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10 minutes ago, Bob8 said:

This is the price of a retail park. I think managed decline would be the best option.

Meadowhell properly shafted rovrum.... but it was in serious decline anyway.

Sheffield as an example, was able to re-brand itself with trendy night life, good eateries and niche boozers etc whilst keeping hold of some main stores for walk up sales.... in a way that Rovrum couldn't. 

The dee dars had city advantage that Rov didn't.

Might as well flatten the town centre and make it a residential environment otherwise it will die on its botty

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1 minute ago, Johnoco said:

Bradford will probably never recover from what it was in reality. I'm currently in Newcastle and it's buzzing, different planet. 

My lad lived there for nearly ten years. He loved it. On the odd occasion I stayed with him I thought the bits he took me to were fabulous. As you say, a different existence 

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34 minutes ago, Robin Evans said:

Meadowhell properly shafted rovrum.... but it was in serious decline anyway.

Sheffield as an example, was able to re-brand itself with trendy night life, good eateries and niche boozers etc whilst keeping hold of some main stores for walk up sales.... in a way that Rovrum couldn't. 

The dee dars had city advantage that Rov didn't.

Might as well flatten the town centre and make it a residential environment otherwise it will die on its botty

St Helens has Liverpool and Manchester on its doorstep. Appealing to the young and trendy would be pointless.

Perhaps a quiet place for older people.

"You clearly have never met Bob8 then, he's like a veritable Bryan Ferry of RL." - Johnoco 19 Jul 2014

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10 minutes ago, Johnoco said:

Bradford will probably never recover from what it was in reality. I'm currently in Newcastle and it's buzzing, different planet. 

 

7 minutes ago, Robin Evans said:

My lad lived there for nearly ten years. He loved it. On the odd occasion I stayed with him I thought the bits he took me to were fabulous. As you say, a different existence 

Towns can suffer from being next door to cultural centres and their gravity sucking in all the life. Newcastle does it to Sunderland, perhaps Leeds to Bradford and London does it to the towns in the donut of soulless death surrounding it.

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"You clearly have never met Bob8 then, he's like a veritable Bryan Ferry of RL." - Johnoco 19 Jul 2014

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20 minutes ago, Bob8 said:

 

Towns can suffer from being next door to cultural centres and their gravity sucking in all the life. Newcastle does it to Sunderland, perhaps Leeds to Bradford and London does it to the towns in the donut of soulless death surrounding it.

Yep and ditto Sheffield to Doncaster. Leeds to Bradford....it's everywhere

 

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20 minutes ago, Bob8 said:

 

Towns can suffer from being next door to cultural centres and their gravity sucking in all the life. Newcastle does it to Sunderland, perhaps Leeds to Bradford and London does it to the towns in the donut of soulless death surrounding it.

Yep and ditto Sheffield to Doncaster. Leeds to Bradford....it's everywhere

 

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Maybe if work from home becomes a long term thing then we shall see a move back to towns from cities.

There’s an argument that people will be looking again at their local environments and may choose countryside over urban sprawl.

Whether this will happen at a fast enough rate to save north west towns hollowed out by the Trafford Centre and then Amazon only time will tell.

I know in Bolton’s planning there is going to be a move towards rejuvenation through creating nicer spaces to eat and be entertained in as opposed to retail.

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Its difficult to uninvent things, My experience over the last 18 months has led me to believe that on-line shopping is here to stay, big time, and not just the Amazon way, either.  Those CAZOO vans are everywhere, it seems and lots of progressive small businesses have adopted on line selling, click and collect and home delivery big time. One of my recent birthday presents was bought on line from Betty's (..,mmmmm) and delivered to my home. That would not have happened 2 years ago, I reckon. Amazon has been faultless for me over the past few years. With one exception, ASDA home deliver has been spot on since March 2020.  Why would I now go to a town centre with restricted parking and no shelter from the elements when I could go to an air conditioned shopping centre anyway.,,which I probably won't because there are other people there.  True, I've been to a garden centre twice in 18 months, bought paint from B and Q, some stuff from ScrewFix click and collect and the generally competitive local DIY shop for odds and ends.

So in my view, town centre are rapidly becoming obsolete apart from in some tourist areas and protectionism wont save them in the end

One thing though, that does need looking at and that is the question of business rates for out of town centres, garden centres etc  but that discussion might be better on the politics sub forum.

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I think that the decline of the town centres in this country is partially down to retail parks.

Its ridiculous because they all seem to have the same shops, fast food outlets etc, so therefore we are quite limited in what we can buy at these urban nightmares.

At least with the stand alone shops in town centres, people had a greater range of choice available, nowadays it seems to be next or topshop and the like.

 

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The best suggestion I’ve seen for revitalising town centre is to move people back in. Turn the big boarded up retail spaces into apartments and flats. Hoping that will encourage restaurants cafes and bars to take over the smaller spaces. 

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I recall all the ' spiel ' about new jobs when new developments in Leigh along the bypass were passed , ' new jobs '  , no replacements jobs , so turn them into ' cafe culture ' centres , full of real ale pubs 😉

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9 hours ago, Robin Evans said:

My lad lived there for nearly ten years. He loved it. On the odd occasion I stayed with him I thought the bits he took me to were fabulous. As you say, a different existence 

Newcastle is exciting that's true, but Gateshead suffered as a result of this and the arrival of the Metro Centre and is now in the throes of trying some kind of recovery. That said, Gateshead have made a real success of their side of the riverside.

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Swindon town centre has been on a downer for quite a while. Our Outlet Village, however, was growing before Covid and seems to be recovering well since it reopened. 

However, as my belief is only buy "stuff" that I actually need (with some very occasional "wants" purchases), I doubt I'll be helping our "buy more stuff economy" much. 

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Our town centre in Warrington is currently going through a facelift. The old market was replaced and a new town centre cinema and retail units added. The council do seem to be trying to change the image and tone, and it’s very welcome to do by me

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8 hours ago, bobbruce said:

The best suggestion I’ve seen for revitalising town centre is to move people back in. Turn the big boarded up retail spaces into apartments and flats. Hoping that will encourage restaurants cafes and bars to take over the smaller spaces. 

Agree 100% with this suggestion.

The truth for me is that I have so few reasons to go to my nearest town centres (Blackburn & Accrington) these days that I hardly ever bother.

The only pull at all is I fancy going to the few boozers left that I like and feel comfortable in. 

If town centres turn away somewhat from traditional retail outlets and find more ways and avenues to make people interested in spending their recreational time within them then they may just find some level of success with that.

 

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Certainly Bradford and I'm sure other cities, are now suffering from the scourge of the planners in the 60's and 70's. Magnificent buildings torn down to be replaced by concrete boxes that have mostly already been demolished themselves. The author JB Priestley supposedly never forgave Bradford for demolishing the Swan Arcade and there's numerous other examples of such folly. Sure, times change but that was just madness. 

Leeds would have been as bad because they planned to demolish the market and the Victoria arcade. The only reason they didn't go through with it was not vision or anything, they just couldn't afford to pay the demolition contractors to do it! I know this because I used to work in demolition for the company concerned. 

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15 hours ago, bobbruce said:

The best suggestion I’ve seen for revitalising town centre is to move people back in. Turn the big boarded up retail spaces into apartments and flats. Hoping that will encourage restaurants cafes and bars to take over the smaller spaces. 

And this is happening already in a few towns. The shift in out of town and online shopping means that there is potential for these town centres to develop into residential villages within what was the old high street. A bit of savvy marketing on such suites could well even turn the fortunes around completely and make them the hive of activity they once used to be, albeit with small cafes/artisans/etc instead of old high street names.

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Whilst I understand morphing unused retail properties into residential, there is the issue of parking, the issue that has in some part driven shoppers away from town centres. Certainly worth promoting, though. 

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10 hours ago, JohnM said:

Whilst I understand morphing unused retail properties into residential, there is the issue of parking, the issue that has in some part driven shoppers away from town centres. Certainly worth promoting, though. 

The issue isn't the parking , the issue is who are these cheap apartments ' flats ' going to be rented to ? , If we end up with town centres full of asylum seekers and refugees , then we end up with things getting worse 

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On 11/06/2021 at 13:59, ckn said:

I saw this pic today of St Helens' town centre. The last year has been brutal on town centres and really accelerated the previous decline. Is there a way back? Do people want it back?

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Shouldn't this be in the politics forum ?

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