Reading the recent series of town centre articles in the local newspaper was very interesting, but in our opinion, The News had reported preconceived views of ‘no hope’ for Town Centre High Streets. That is unfortunate because there are successful shops and town centres.
In Havant, for instance, Astares menswear in East Street, and Button Up Baby in North Street, both independent retailers that seem to be trading successfully, yet they were not interviewed to see why they do well. The fact that Mousetrap have relocated from Chichester to Havant also seems to have been ignored.
What was also missing was a response from the local authority. When councils develop well-informed strategic plans for town centres, taking into account economic, environmental and social trends, creating an holistic approach to develop a sustainable town centres for the future, positive results can be achieved.
In Havant’s case, where are the visionaries, either in the executive or elected side of the council, to push this approach forward?
In our opinion, Local Plans are not enough. Town Centres must be prioritised in the same way as Housing, and have on-going policy interventions to stimulate multifaceted developments and action.
A town’s identity is usually based around its town centre. It gives residents their sense of place, their sense of community and hopefully, their sense of pride. It is vital that we all work to achieve a thriving, modern style town centre that will be sustainable and successful.