Ashfield already has a vision for Hucknall town centre — and it’s out of date!

ASHFIELD District Council has a well-established vision for Hucknall town centre.

Very detailed plans for the development of the town centre were put forward by URBED in 2009, and the idea that shoppers, traders, Ashfield Council and the Notts County Council are to form some sort of consortium to protect the future of Hucknall is the stuff of fairytales.

These are my first reactions to the article published in the Dispatch (‘Vision Needed To Protect Town Centre’).

In that article, Hucknall’s Conservative MP Mark Spencer and Coun Ian Morrison (Lab), of Hucknall, demonstrate a remarkable lack of understanding of the situation and an equal lack of ideas.

Ashfield Council had a vision around 2000 of Hucknall as a market town, bustling with shoppers, who would travel to the town in public transport or on foot. The dreaded motor-car, the bane of town planners, would be banned from sight.

To this end, the entire High Street would be pedestrianised and this was embedded in the Local Plan about 2002.

Later, Ashfield Council employed urban development company, URBED, to look at possible improvements to the town centre. Their highly-detailed draft-report is dated September 2009.

The most noticeable features of this report were the reinstatement of a supermarket in the centre of town, where vehicular traffic would have the most difficult access, and the immense cost of the scheme.

If our MP thinks that this is not a good idea, he should say so and should call for a NEW vision for the town centre. Sadly, he has not put forward his own vision, and his idea that all and sundry should work together to protect the town-centre shops is misguided and unworkable and would be ineffective.

The simple truths are that Ashfield Council is responsible for town planning — and it is the council that needs the vision.

Notts County Council is only involved because it is responsible for the roads. It is the county council who told Ashfield Council that full pedestrianisation of High Street was impractical.

The traders are there simply to make money, and the shoppers will buy from whoever gives them the best value for money.

My recent thoughts on this subject were published on February 24 of this year. But for nearly ten years now, I have been pushing a vision of continuous improvement that would allow the town to adapt on a regular basis to changes in shopping habits, social needs and vehicular traffic volumes.

Unfortunately, the in word for several years has been ‘regeneration’, which infers major reforms. Trying to make large changes is very difficult because by the time they come to fruition, they are already out of date.

In the case of Hucknall, Ashfield Council’s vision is already vastly out of date, and work on it has not yet started.