FURTHER to my Letter published in the Dispatch (‘Scrapping Parking Charges Wold Help Revive Hucknall’), I would like to add the following.
I was unaware until recently that in 2008, Ashfield District Council commissioned a firm of consultants (URBED) to study all aspects of Hucknall town centre.
Their 153-page report is in the public domain on the Internet and makes very interesting reading, particularly in view of what has happened to Hucknall over the last four years.
URBED’s website summarises the objective of the report as: “The aim of the masterplan was to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the town centre, to identify development opportunities, to create a vision for the future and to map out a strategy to get there. In doing this, the masterplan sets out a vision for Hucknall as a good place to shop, work, visit and live in order to increase the viability of the town centre and to attract long-term investment.”
The whole document takes some wading through but a few of its notable conclusions relevant to the rejuvenation of our High Street are useful here.
Section 10.21 states: “Retail use is the bedrock of a healthy town centre”.
Sections 16.16 and 16.17 state: “The health of the High Street illustrates the health of the town. The role and function of the High Street needs to be re-established and further retail development concentrated here to create an anchor for small businesses.”
“Footfall on the High Street can be increased. However adequate parking provision needs to be supplied.”
I have no idea how much Ashfield paid (out of ratepayers’ pockets) for this consultants’ report. But it seems to have either ignored or failed to implement many of the report’s recommendations.
The number of vacant shops in Hucknall town centre is clearly evidence that we no longer have a “healthy” town centre. In fact, it is now in a much worse condition than it was in 2008 when URBED’s report was submitted. Money well-spent?
Come on Hucknall, let us take this all the way. If enough of us pull together, Ashfield will have to take note of public opinion. Free parking is only a start. The strength of feeling among the many local residents and shoppers I have spoken with has reinforced my determination, and I would like to thank everybody who has signed the petition so far.
Who knows? Maybe, just maybe, we will be able to buy a pair of shoes in Hucknall again, without going to Tesco, a charity shop or Nottingham.