I was at the meeting at the Holy Trinity Centre on Tuesday and should like to make a few comments.
I have lived in Farley Green for 47 years but I work at the University and take part in many activities
in the town centre.
The town plan must not be so dominated by SHOPS ! We were told there is an underprovision of
food retail in the town centre, but we have Tesco, Sainsbury’s, M & S, several delis and the North Street market.
Demand has apparently been identified for retail development, inexplicable when so many shops are closing.
Personally I have no desire for the Friary to be extended – that’s quite enough (with White Lion Walk and
Tunsgate Square) of the “shopping mall” style of development. I should prefer more individual shops.
There is the current preoccupation with Waitrose. We were told that an”anchor retail outlet”would need
to have frontage to North Street. People would find their way to Waitrose wherever it was situated. Why
could in not go in the station development (which apparently has plans for a supermarket ) which
would cause far fewer traffic problems. If I have a burning desire to go to Waitrose I go to Dorking or
Godalming, not far away. Personally I cannot see why every town has to have one of every type of
supermarket and I certainly don’t think Aldi should be allowed to come to Burpham, to the detriment
of the local shops. And just think how on-line shopping is increasing significantly – all those delivery
vans buzzing around
Firms are reluctant to take the vacant offices in the town because of the lack of affordable housing and
traffic congestion. One of the contributing factors is the closure of the Debenhams underpass (I believe
at their request). The pedestrian crossing causes long tailbacks and it only needs one car to break
down or one lorry to be parked on the gyratory system for the roads to be gridlocked for miles around.
Of course the Cathedral, the University and the Research Park should be included in the Town Plan,
as they such an important part of the economic structure of the town and of course there is general
agreement on the desirability of affordable housing and riverside open spaces – two of the most
suitable sites are currently in use as car parks. To my mind the planners have made some very
questionable decisions in the past : one has only to go up to the high ground at either end of the
town to see what a “carbuncle ” the House of Fraser’s atrium is. Please let us not be saddled
with an overall plan for the town until all the elements, in particular the station development,
have received careful consideration