Posts Tagged ‘town centres’

£4.5 million to be poured into the black hole of Aldershot

July 29, 2014

Aldershot is to receive £4.5 million investment. Three million external funding, one and a half million from the local council. ‘Investment’ is to stretch the meaning to breaking point, in reality, squandering of public money.

An example of the nonsense from imbecile leader of Rushmoor:

Successful initiatives such as Westgate and changes in the way people shop are providing new opportunities for the town and contributed greatly to the success of the bid. We are very pleased that this money has been secured for investment in Aldershot town centre.

When you make statements like this, you lose all credibility.

Westgate has been described as many things, but successful initiative is not one of them. It has had dire consequences on the town centre, retailers are suffering, look at the number of boarded-up and closed shops, retailers call it Wastegate.

Even in its own right, Wastegate is not a success. Walk through daytime and note the empty chain eateries. Every ten pound spent in one of these eateries, is ten pound not spent in the town centre, it is ten pound not recycled within the local economy, were it spent with local retailers.

The cinema, when a long awaited cinema opens in Farnborough, so far over a decade late, will see the bums on seats halve.

cappuccino at Caffe Macchiato

cappuccino at Caffe Macchiato

Any one who wants somewhere half decent to eat goes to Guildford of Godalming or Alton. And these towns offer a pleasant environment to wander around. The best Aldershot can offer is the recently refurbished Queen Hotel (and that is not good). And you can get a decent cappuccino at Caffe Macchiato.

Look at Aldershot and Farnborough, both are disaster, then look to the nonsense spouted by the imbecile leader of the council, and it is easy to see why.

In Farnborough one million pounds was wasted repaving Queensmead, shoddy workmanship, poor quality paving slabs, and when there is a heavy downpour it floods. Kingsmead is one of the ugliest shopping centres in the country, empty and boarded-up units, the look and feel of a film set for a post-apocalyptic movie.

Aldershot boarded-up and empty shops, fast food outlets, gambling joints, drunks on the streets.

Austerity, what austerity? When it comes to wasting public money, there is no limit. Austerity is an excuse for Shock Doctrine, slash and burn of public services.

An exciting new project to improve Aldershot town centre has received the go ahead from members of Rushmoor Borough Council’s Cabinet.

Everything is always described as ‘exciting’. They must lead incredibly dull lives.

The first phase of improvements is expected to start next year and will see the shop fronts of key town centre buildings restored.

Restoration of shop fronts to their original shop fronts should have happened decades ago.

Caffe Macchiato

Caffe Macchiato

Caffe Macchiato look after their building, why not other landlords?

How will be enforced?

Grants are to be paid to bad landlords. Why should bad landlords who unlike Caffe Macchiato have looked after their building be rewarded? And if grants are to be paid, then the town should receive something in return, for example rent reduction to local indie businesses.

Phase two will focus on Union Street and Wellington Street. Paving will be repaired and Yorkstone will be replaced with block paving to match the current materials. Existing street furniture and landscaping will be scaled back to give clearer views and lighting will be redesigned to enhance the night-time environment.

The streets are trip hazards, patches of tarmac everywhere, uneven blocks and paving slabs.

 lorry in 'pedestriansied'  Union Street

lorry in ‘pedestriansied’ Union Street

Why are these streets not pedestrianised 24 hours a day seven days a week? Allowing vehicles through at four o’clock in the afternoon is a nightmare for pedestrians. Delivery lorries are smashing the paving slabs.

Both streets should be pedestrianised. Lorry and van deliveries can be made by parking on the edge of the town centre and delivering by hand cart. This is the norm in the old part of Istanbul, in Cascais, Athens, Puerto de la Cruz, Bassano del Grappa and many other European cities.

The paving of the streets should be York slabs, not blocks.

Re-paving of Queensmead took six months. Businesses saw footfall and takings fall during the work, they saw no recovery on completion of the work.

Clearer views of what? Bench seats do not obscure any views.

Costa should be barred from tables and chairs outside. The tables and chairs and the A-board are an obstruction on the street corner, the area covered in fag ends.

Night-time economy is drunken thugs roaming the streets. One reason why Aldershot now has Street Angels.

Aldershot lacks decent pubs. Somewhere to go and have a quiet drink of decent beer from a small brewery, eat a decent meal at a reasonable price, at night occasional quality live music.

The next stage will see signage improved to encourage people to visit different parts of town. Existing finger posts will be kept and seven monoliths will be installed at key town centre locations to provide visitors with information.

Why no finger posts directing people from Wastegate into the town centre?

Also need finger posts directing from town centre and bus and train station to West End Centre, a cultural oasis in the Philistine desert of Aldershot.

Monoliths appalling waste of public money.

Phase four will focus on Court Road and Wellington Street. A new footway link will be added between the upper decks of the High Street car park and Court Road. A new amphitheatre stairway will lead pedestrians from the High Street car park to the town. The car park will receive an external facelift and secure cycle stores will be introduced.

Footway link not necessary. Nor new stairway.

Tarting up the car park, will not disguise the fact an ugly multi-story car park.

Cycle storage out of sight, ideal for cycle thieves.

An appalling waste of public money.

Grosvenor Road will become a single lane making it easier for pedestrians to move from one side of the street to the other. There will be a focus on improving the look of the area, with wider pavements, contrasting paving materials, public art and street tree planting.

Grosvenor Road was only resurfaced a few weeks ago with new tarmac laid. Appalling waste of public money, if to be dug up to narrow the road and widen the pavements.

What should have been done at the time was a pedestrian crossing linking Union Street with Upper Union Street.

Grosvenor Road already is single lane, the pavements are not narrow.

The Queen Hotel has two A-Boards outside blocking the footpath, one across a dropped curb. The council has been aware since the pub re-opened in April following refurbishment. No action has been taken to affect their removal.

Delivery lorries for The Queen Hotel illegally park on the pavement. Council aware, no action taken

There is very low footfall in the street, nothing for passers by to visit. Thus an appalling waste of public money to widen the pavements and narrow the road.

There is a need to clean up the disgusting, dilapidated state of the buildings in Grosvenor Road. Some appear to be tenement slums. This means enforcement action against the landlords.

Barrack Road to be closed. Where do the buses to Farnham go, or has this not been thought of? Buses go up the High Street, turn left into Barrack Road en-route to Farnham. All around the houses, would not be acceptable to passengers or the bus company and would add unnecessary delay and fuel consumption. There has been no consultation with passengers or bus drivers. There are no legitimate grounds to close Barrack Road, nothing to be gained by doing so, but inconvenience would be caused to bus passengers.

Victoria Street

What of Victoria Street? A couple of years ago, the pavements were widened, the road narrowed. Traffic is not permitted to pass through during the day. Absolutely no notice is taken, buses can barely pass through due to cars parked either side. And if no traffic is permitted, how did the parked cars get there?

A lost opportunity. Victoria Street should have been pedestrianised.

Residents and businesses can find out more about the project at exhibitions being staged at key Aldershot sites in August. Starting on Monday 4 August, there will be displays at the Princes Hall and Wellington Centre. These will then move to Morrisons at Westgate and the Aldershot pools complex from Friday 15 August to the end of the month.

The usual fake consultation, plans already drawn up, go through the motions.

There has been no consultation with local indie retailers or people on the street in drawing up these plans.

Princess Hall is out of the way. Morrisons, people do a trolley shop and drive home, do not go into the town centre.

There is no publicity in the town centre.

It has already been decided when the work will start!

Telling people what the council has already decided, is not consultation.

Courts take a dim view of the failure to carry out fair and open minded consultation.

The decision by Philistines at Lincolnshire County Council to close two-thirds of libraries in the county, reduce hours at those remaining, fire 170 library staff, has been quashed by the High Court, due to the failure of the council to carry out proper consultation.

There should be stalls in Aldershot town centre, out in the open in Union Street, manned seven days a week, 10am until 6pm, for at least a fortnight, ideally a month, to take on board what locals think.

Exercise in hypocrisy

More nonsense from the imbecile leader of the council:

We want the town centre to be a busy and thriving place and the planned programme of improvements will help us to improve the appearance of Aldershot town centre and pedestrian links between key locations. We understand the issues facing Aldershot and see this phased approach as the next part of Aldershot’s regeneration.

What regeneration?

This is simply an exercise in barefaced hypocrisy. It is the council that has to date destroyed the town centre.

It’s the local economy stupid!

The proposals being put forward by the council are yet another example of squandering public money. They will do nothing to enhance Aldershot or remove its stigma as the place to avoid.

There should be zero tolerance of the drunken yobs at night, and that includes zero tolerance of the binge drinking bars that are fuelling their behaviour.

Clean up all the buildings, restore them to their former Victorian splendour.

Pedestrianise all the town centre streets, and that means a 24 hour seven days a week ban on all but emergency vehicles. Cyclists would be permitted.

Whilst the local council is in the main to blame for the parlous state of Aldershot town centre, greedy, grasping landlords charging unreasonable rents for a slum town centre are also to blame.

Just Shop has recently closed. It was the type of quality independent retailer that Aldershot needs and can ill afford to lose. They were forced to close by a greedy landlord charging too high a rent and not willing to enter into negotiations to lower the rent.

A policy that is working in other towns is to list all the rents being charged. Name and shame the bad landlords. When tenants go for a rent review, they have hard data to force their rents down.

Aldershot is a slum. The rents do not reflect this.

Aldershot is a deprived area. Everything possible should be done to retain money within the local economy, to recycle that money within the local economy.

Council policy to date has been to drain money out of the local economy, thus enforcing a downward spiral.

Support and promote local businesses.

Council policy to date, has been to destroy local businesses.

Following the excellent example of Guildford with Guildford Independent’s Day, and launch on 15 July 2015 Aldershot Independent’s Day. The only problem, as one indie business has identified, the lack of indie businesses. The actual problem is the lack of quality indie businesses.

Consider the introduction of a local currency, an Aldershot Pound. Problem same as for Aldershot Independent’s Day, the lack of quality indie businesses.

The Arcade lies boarded-up, sitting derelict. The council should serve a Compulsory Purchase Order and reopen, with the units let at realistic rents to local businesses.

Encourage community businesses like TechStart (a rare success story in Aldershot) and Transition Community Cafe.

Look to nearby towns, Guildford, Godalming, Farnham. Unlike Aldershot, they must be doing something right.

Look at the Portas Pilot towns, now two years on, and learn the lessons to be learnt. Only £100,000 was given to each Portas Pilot town. A drop in the ocean, less than a High Street chain would spend on outfitting a single store. No studies have been carried out. More shops have closed than have opened in the Portas Pilot towns. There is much criticism of the lack of analysis of and lack of support for the Portas Pilot towns.

Look to Transition Towns and the work being done by local communities to revive their towns. One of the failings by the local council has been not to involve local communities. The policy has always been to give developers what they want and show arrogant contempt for the wishes of local people and local businesses.

It is going to take years to recover from the damage inflicted on the town centre by the local council. That proposed by the council is simply an exercise in hypocrisy and squandering public money. Apart from repaving the two semi-pedestrianised streets, it will do nothing to help Aldershot.

Two more retailers quit Aldershot

June 16, 2014
Next closed down

Next closed down

flower shop closed down

flower shop closed down

Two more retailers have pulled out of failing Aldershot town centre.

Next shut down about ten days ago.

The other shop to go was the flower shop at the top of the street. They had relocated from a shop in neighbouring street, when they were forced to relocate when the building caught fire. Now they have gone.

And this is not counting the Thomson travel shop that closed a few months ago, or the retailers that have been driven out of The Arcade, or all the other closures.

There is a new coffee shop at the top of the street, their own hand-roasted coffee, but quality is lost on Aldershot, and they are clearly struggling, near empty most of the time.

Soon all that will be left will be the tackiest of the tackiest.

As everyone said it would Wastegate aka Wastegate delivering the final death blow to Aldershot.

Like neighbouring Farnborough, a town centre killed by planners in bed with greedy developers and Big Business.

OBJECT: Demolition of The Tumbledown Dick for a Drive-Thru McDonald’s

September 5, 2013
The Tumbledown Dick

The Tumbledown Dick

The Tumbledown Dick

The Tumbledown Dick

a Drive-Thru McDonald's will feed into this

a Drive-Thru McDonald’s will feed into this

a Drive-Thru McDonald's will feed into this

a Drive-Thru McDonald’s will feed into this

trash McDonald's

trash McDonald’s

Where there is evidence of deliberate neglect of or damage to a heritage asset the deteriorated state of the heritage asset should not be taken into account in any [planning] decision. — National Planning Policy Framework

planning ref: 13/00512/FULPP

Deadline for objections: Friday 6 September 2013

Note: late objections will be considered, but please get in as soon as possible.

Objection to:

plan@rushmoor.gov.uk keith.holland@rushmoor.gov.uk

Note: You may also wish to copy your objection to members of the planning committee, other councillors, Gerald Howarth MP and the media.

Note: Please encourage your friends to object. Please spread the word.

Introduction

Dating from the 1720s, The Tumbledown Dick is one of the oldest buildings in Farnborough. A once popular live music venue, it is is now sitting derelict, with holes in the roof.

McDonald’s have submitted a planning application to demolish The Tumbledown Dick and erect a Drive-Thru McDonald’s. They will retain the front façade of the building.

Heritage

The Tumbledown Dick is a locally listed building and an Asset of Community Value (ACV) and is therefore a ‘Heritage Asset’ which means the planning committee cannot permit development which would result in destruction of the building. McDonald’s proposal to keep only the façade but demolish the rest of the building, is thus unacceptable and must be REJECTED.

As a local listed building, it is contrary to that policy to demolish. The only exception is if to be replaced by a building of outstanding character. A Drive-Thru McDonald’s does not meet the exception.

Where there is evidence of deliberate neglect by the owners (it has been wilfully neglected) the deteriorated state of the heritage asset should not be taken into account in any planning decision, ie it cannot be decided it is ok to demolish due to deliberate neglect by the developer.

There are holes in the roof, water is pouring through these holes. The situation will rapidly deteriorate with winter storms.

As a matter of urgency enforcement action must be taken to install a new roof, put good all the internal damage. If the owners refuse, the Council should undertake repairs and bill the owner. In the meantime, scaffolding must be erected and the building enclosed within a waterproof membrane.

Why is the Council refusing to take enforcement action?

Heritage gives a sense of place, of well being.

The best way to protect heritage is to put it to some use. Proposals have been put forward to bring the building back into use as a community owned cultural centre.

Asset of Community Value

The Council recognises the importance of the building by registering it as an Asset of Community Value. Were it to come up for sale, the local community has the opportunity to purchase the building and run it as a local cultural centre. Friends of the Tumbledown Dick have in place such plans, but they will only be granted that opportunity if the plans to demolish the building and turn it into a Drive-Thru McDonald’s are rejected.

The building is also locally listed as a building of local importance.

Culture

Farnborough is a cultural desert.

Proposals have been put forward to bring the building back into use as a community owned cultural centre cf the West End Centre in Aldershot.

A refurbished Tumbledown Dick would feature live music, art exhibitions, serve good food and coffee, source wherever possible locally, provide meeting space, possibly a recording studio, employ local people on a living wage, recycle money within the local economy.

Traffic and pollution

By its very nature, a Drive-Thru is a traffic generator.

The Farnborough Road, A325, is a main arterial route, at peak times approaching gridlock, the traffic between the two roundabouts either very slow moving or not moving.

The Drive-Thru would feed directly onto this main road, very close to a major junction.

How many cars queuing before there is a tailback onto the main road? This already occurs at the Drive-Thru at Farnborough Gate. A tailback onto the main road, close to a very busy junction, this then feeds back down the slip road to the Blackwater Valley Road.

Queuing traffic causing potential tailbacks onto a main arterial route between two of the busiest roundabouts in Farnborough could be dangerous, as drivers exiting the Pinehurst Roundabout may have to slow down or quickly change lanes to avoid the queuing traffic for the Drive-Thru. This could be dangerous and may lead to accidents.

Deliveries to service the site will be carried out by large articulated lorries, due to the limited space on the site, the tracking shown in the plans means the lorry will have to block 7 parking spaces plus 1 disabled space during their deliveries (potentially blocking parked vehicles for up to an hour).

To exit the site, the articulated lorry would have to carry out a very difficult manoeuvre and go over both lanes of the A325 dual carriageway. This could lead to accidents or traffic delays.

Parking – there are insufficient parking spaces for the site and size of the 2 storey restaurant proposed. This will lead to further traffic queues and is not in keeping with local planning requirements for 63 spaces minimum as only 30 spaces are proposed.

The prevailing wind is from the west. The unpleasant stench of cooking oil will drift across residential areas 18 hours a day.

Health

Nationally we have an obesity epidemic and associated health problems such as type 2 diabetes. Health care costs are spiralling out of control.

Type 2 diabetes used to be known as late middle age onset diabetes. It is now effecting young people in their mid-twenties.

Two-thirds of British adults are overweight and one in four is classified as obese.

Contrary to myth, children do not exercise less. They are not getting fat because they exercise less, they exercise less because they are getting fat. They are getting fat because of what they eat.

By 2001, obesity in the UK had doubled in men and trebled in women. And it was rising. Two years later WHO published a ground-breaking report that said the food industry marketing to children high calorie foods and the increased consumption of sugary drinks was having a major impact on obesity.

Bad as health statistics are nationally, these are even worse in Aldershot and Farnborough, due to lack of education on healthy diet, lack of exercise, poor diet and too many fast food outlets serving high fat, high sugar, high salt, energy dense, junk food.

Rushmoor has a rising obesity problem (it is above the national average in children of Reception Age and Adults), should the council approve yet a further fast food outlet, especially one aimed at families due to the soft play centre?

You only have to walk through the town centres of Farnborough and Aldershot and notice the number of fat, overweight and clinically obese people, often with some disgusting fast food in their hands, eating on the hoof. Then look around and observe the number of tacky fast food outlets. Try counting the number in Aldershot town centre, one soon runs out of fingers and thumbs on both hands.

Even more noticeable the dire situation locally, if you then take the same walk in Alton, Farnham, Godalming and Guildford and do a comparison.

At the McLibel Trial, McDonald’s admitted they serve junk food.

The plans for the Drive-Thru will have a soft play area. This is to entice children into a lifetime of bad food, poor health and an early death. Do our children not deserve better?

Health is a national and local material planning consideration.

Islington has health and control of the number of fast food outlets and their location built into its local planning policies. Why does not Rushmoor?

Islington has an excellent pub protection policy, as does Cambridge. Were a pub protection policy in place locally, as required by national planning policy, there would be no planning application from McDonald’s, as The Tumbledown Dick would have had to be put on the market as a pub, free of pubco ties.

Noise and Pollution

The constant hum of traffic passing through the Drive-Thru lanes, 6am to midnight, 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, is going to cause more traffic noise and pollution in a zone already at the high-end range of pollution. It will lead to an increase in litter around the area and the Empress ward, plus an increase in anti-social behaviour in light of what already occurs at Farnborough Gate.

The Rushmore core strategy and the SPD (Supplementary Planning Document) where Rushmoor states they want to provide a “clean and healthy place to live.” There are also planning regulations in the National Planning Policy Framework about Noise and Pollution.

Stationary or slow moving traffic generates far more pollution than free-flowing traffic. This will become a pollution hot spot.

By its vary nature, a Drive-Thru generates car journeys, this leads to increased pollution, increased CO2 generation.

How is the increase in CO2 compatible with the statutory obligations of the Climate Change Act (2008)?

Climate Change Act (2008) sets a legally-binding target for the UK to reduce its greenhouse emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, compared to 1990 levels.

At a recent talk entitled Focus on Farnborough (Wednesday 28 August 2013), looking at the past, present and future of Farnborough, Andrew Lloyd Rushmoor chief executive agreed there was congestion on this stretch of road and action was required. Mitigation is not pouring many more cars and lorries onto this congested stretch of highway. If action is required to reduce the traffic, then it is not possible to approve an application that by its very nature is a traffic generator and would pour many more cars onto this congested arterial highway.

A precedent has been set. Opposite, on the other side of the road, plans to expand a doctors surgery were rejected on the grounds that it would pour additional traffic onto this stretch of highway. The number of extra cars would have been insignificant compared with that generated by a Drive-Thru whose very businesses model is based on traffic generation. If the doctors surgery was rejected on the basis of extra traffic onto the same busy road, then the Drive-Thru must be REJECTED.

Litter and antisocial behaviour

Polystyrene burger boxes cannot be recycled. These will be destined for landfill or incineration, assuming of course not thrown in the street.

Walk past any Drive-Thru McDonald’s and note the amount of litter not only in the vicinity but also scattered down the road. McDonald’s claim to employ litter patrols. The very act of employing litter patrols, is an admission of causing a litter problem, and clearly these litter patrols are not effective, else we would not see the litter. Has anyone ever seen a litter patrol?

McLitter finds its way as far away as the top end of George V Playing Fields.

At Farnborough Gate, staff were dumping the rubbish in the bushes.

At the McLibel Trial, evidence was submitted that showed the litter problem caused by McDonald’s.

For whatever reason, Drive-Thru McDonald’s attract anti-social behaviour. A place for the low-life to congregate.

The Metropolitan Police have OBJECTED to a two-story Drive-Thru McDonald’s at Wallington near Croydon on the grounds that it would lead to an increase in antisocial behaviour. Local residents have handed in a petition with 1,200 names objecting.

There is an easy way to stop the litter and anti-social behaviour, REJECT the planning application.

Employment

McDonald’s, as with Sports Direct and Vue Cinema, is a bad employer, low pay, temporary part-time jobs, zero-hour contracts, low skill, high employee turnover, a revolving door with the Job Centre down the road.

Low-skill jobs, otherwise known as McJobs. The businesses model of Ray Kroc, was based on job de-skilling.

A good restaurant, employs skilled chefs, newcomers learn new skills, important life skills, how to prepare and cook meals.

The number of jobs McDonald’s claim they will create should be seen as a gross exaggeration and taken with pinch of salt. Unlike their junk food which has more than a pinch of salt. 65 jobs, which is an estimate at the high end, is not 65 full-time jobs. These are part-time, temporary, zero-hours contracts McJobs, which equate to a handful of real jobs.

McDonald’s state this site will create 65 full-time but mostly part-time jobs, but any jobs lost in the family-run takeaways opposite due to competition in the immediate vicinity should be mitigated against this. In addition, McDonald’s operate their employment contracts for 95% of their ‘crew’ on zero-hour contracts, which means they do not have to guarantee any set hours of employment and staff will only be paid for hours worked. Crew staff are paid minimum wage, which can lead to continued reliance on additional employment or the benefits system.

No one can survive on zero-hour contracts, not knowing how many hours worked, how much money will come in on any week. Bills land on the doormat with monotonous regularity.

We should be looking to good employers, who at the very least pay a living wage, who give guarantees on working hours, who are wishing to employ skilled people, and when a person leaves, they do so with enhanced skills, improving their prospects in the job market

Local economy

McDonald’s is an international chain. It will drain money out of the local economy, not recycle money within the local economy.

We then have the externalised costs of dealing with the health costs, the stress of living on low wage and uncertain hours, the cost of subsiding the low wages through the benefit system.

Rushmoor is (allegedly), committed to tackling local pockets of deprivation, much emphasis was put on this by Andrew Lloyd at his recent talk.

You do not tackle deprivation by draining money out of the local economy. You do not tackle deprivation by opening yet more fast food outlets. You do not tackle deprivation with McJobs.

You tackle deprivation by paying living wages, improving skills, improving diet and health, plugging the leaks and recycling money in the local economy.

Rushmoor is (allegedly), committed to tackling local pockets of deprivation, much emphasis was put on this by Andrew Lloyd at his recent talk. You do not tackle deprivation by draining money out of the local economy. You do not tackle deprivation by opening yet more fast food outlets. You do not tackle deprivation with McJobs. You tackle deprivation by paying living wages, improving skills, improving diet and health, plugging the leaks and recycling money in the local economy.

There is a strong argument to be made for the social and economic value of a community pub. IPPR’s recent report Pubs and Places: the social value of community pubs, placed the wider social value of a sample of community pubs at between £20,000 and £120,000 per pub. It noted that pubs inject an average of £80,000 into their local economy each year, besides their cultural and practical community value.

Need for not demonstrated

The need for a Drive-Thru McDonald’s has not been demonstrated.

There is a Drive-Thru McDonald’s a mile up the road, there are takeaways opposite, behind as part of the cinema complex, two restaurants, with the possibility of more to come.

On the other hand, we know the abysmal health statistics due to the locality saturated with too many fast food outlets.

Lack of vision

Farnborough and Aldershot town centres have been destroyed by lack of vision and decades of bad planning decisions. Boarded-up shops, tacky chains, charity shops, fast food outlets, gambling joints. All the signs of failing town centres. The places to avoid, and those who have the means go elsewhere.

A few new paving slabs in Queensmead is not going to bring the punters in. Even less a festival to celebrate an appalling waste of public money.

A Drive-Thru McDonald’s is simply going to reinforce the bad image of Farnborough.

Towns need heritage, a sense of place, diversity.

In Paris, we still see street markets. In Alton, Farnham, Godalming, the butcher, the baker, the greengrocer.

With fresh, cheap, easily available food, people cook. They lead healthier lives.

Heritage, good food, diversity, a sense of place, leads to well being.

Farnborough is a cultural desert.

The Tumbledown Dick as a community owned cultural centre, would safeguard heritage, it would provide music, art, good food, support local businesses, it would link in with The Barn in Farnham, West End Centre in Aldershot, Electric Theatre in Guildford, it would enhance diversity, not reduce.

A Drive-Thru would simply reinforce all that is bad about Farnborough.

Conclusion

Bad on several grounds: noise, litter, traffic congestion, pollution, health, destruction of local heritage.

The planning application to demolish The Tumbledown Dick for a Drive-Thru McDonald’s must be REJECTED.

Portas Pilots: failure or success?

May 30, 2013
Westgate ugly eyesore on edge of Victorian town centre

Westgate ugly eyesore on edge of Victorian town centre

In May 2012, the government announced twelve English High Streets would share £1.2 million of cash to rejuvenate their town centres.

The money allocated was trivial. Divvy up between twelve towns, and it was less than a High Street chain would spend on a store refurbishment.

Research for BBC Radio 4 You and Yours would appear to show that from vacancy and occupancy rates, the Portas experiment has been a failure.

Market Rasen appears to be a success. Was it the money, or the community spirit, and the lack of input from the local council?

300 towns applied for a share of the money. One of the unsuccessful bidders was Aldershot, a dire place to visit, boarded-up shops, betting shops, charity shops, fast food outlets, all the indications of a dead and dying town.

A local councillor in Aldershot has woken up to the fact that a shopping centre is sitting empty. He claims the developer is letting down the town. A clueless idiot if ever there was one. Developers destroy town centres. They are only interested in a fast buck, a quick return, extraction of the maximum amount of money from the town.

It is a bit rich coming from a local councillor. Who gave planning consent for the shopping centre? Why would any retailer wish to move into a dead and dying town centre? A situation caused by decades of poor planning decisions.

If anyone has let down the town, it is local councillors, like the clueless idiot now shedding crocodile tears.

Why would any retailer wish to move into a dead and dying town of boarded-up shops? The best use of the derelict shopping centre would be to turn it into something else. Anything other than retail.

The question this clueless councillor should be raising is the dire straits of local retailers.

Only a few weeks ago, the chief executive said Westgate was good news for Aldershot. This was news to local retailers who call the development Wastegate due to the dire consequences it has had on the town centre, a large retail development on the edge of the town centre, one large supermarket and several chain fast food outlets, all of which drain money out of the local economy.

It was not necessary to have Portas cash, in fact it was almost irrelevant, what was important was to apply the principles, something Aldershot and neighbouring Farnborough (another dead and dying town centre) have failed to do.

Town centres are about more than shops, retail and shopping. Which is one reason why shopping centres are such ghastly soulless places. In too many places, we have too much retail space, which is why much now sits boarded-up. We have had an over-expansion of retail space, aided and abetted by greed and corrupt planning planners in the pocket of developers. Retail space was expanded way beyond that which was sustainable, and we are now seeing the inevitable collapse and retraction.

Much work has been done by Transition Towns and New Economics Foundation, on creating sustainable communities, and yet that work is being ignored.

Small, independent retailers are the heart and soul of town centres, they provide diversity, character, recycle money within the local economy, and yet they have no say, are being driven out of town centres by greedy developers and corrupt planners in the pockets of developers.

Sincil Street in Lincoln is a very popular street in the centre of Lincoln. It is all what remains of the historic town centre. Small shops, independent retailers. During the day, more people than the High Street. And yet the City Council seems hell bent on destroying it to replace with a soulless shopping centre.

North Laine in Brighton is a pleasant are to visit. Why? Because of the diversity of its shops, restaurants, bookshops.

Market Rasen

February 12, 2013

En route to Portas Pilot Market Rasen in Lincs which has reduced empty shops by 60 per cent and created new foody hub. Who says the high street’s dead. — Mary Portas

Market Rasen, a small Lincolnshire market town, has turned around its fortunes, from a failing town, to reducing shop vacancy rate by 60%, by focussing on what matters, small retailers, community and a sustainable local economy. Such as been the success, that folk now want to come into Market Rasen.

Market Rasen now has a thriving market, an art festival.

Market Rasen has achieved this success and turnaround within just a few months.

Today Mary Portas visited Market Rasen and she was very impressed by what had been achieved in only a few months.

Contrast with Aldershot and Farnborough, where the policy is destroy small businesses, drain money out of the local economy. Town centres destroyed by greed and planners in the pocket of developers.

The current plans for Farnborough are more of the same failed policy. Hand the town to developers to trash. A c 1720s coaching inn, The Tumbledown Dick, that existed long before the town, is earmarked for demolition for a Drive-Thru McDonald’s.

In Aldershot, a Victorian Arcade was demolished and replaced by a plastic replica, it in turn to be trashed, destroying small shops to make way for an unwanted Wetherspoons and Poundland. Outside The Arcade, small shops are threatened with demolition. Westgate, an ugly development of a large supermarket and tacky chain fast food outlets, is laying waste to what little is left of the local economy.

The sick joke is that Rushmoor (local council for Aldershot and Farnborough) applied for Portas Pilot status. It would have been a complete waste of money. You do not need Portas Pilot money, you simply listen to local communities, not get into bed with developers and big business.

When you look at what other councils are doing, including working with local communities not against, you realise just how Neanderthal and backwards the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor.

Cambridge has built into its planning policies a sustainable local economy. Islington has built into its planning policies protection of local shops, recognises the need to stop the spread of junk food outlets due to the obesity epidemic.

Brighton has North Laines. A very popular area.

Lincoln has Sincil Street. The Strait, Steep Hill and Bailgate. And yet the City Council is determined to lay waste to Sincil Street.

There is a myth, peddled by Big Business, developers and councils in their pockets, that people prefer High Street clone shops, every town Clone Town, all looking the same. They do not.

Revisiting Westgate

November 5, 2012
Westgate

Westgate

Westgate is indeed a comprehensive scheme that will be a fantastic asset for Aldershot and its residents. … all round it is great news and I’m delighted to see it opening. — Peter Moyle, council leader Rotten Borough of Rushmoor

It’s just a fantastic addition to the town and will be a huge boost to residents. … Westgate will serve as an excellent conduit to the town centre itself. — Andrew Lloyd, chief executive Rotten Borough of Rushmoor

Westgate, an ugly unwanted development on the edge of Aldershot town centre, parts of which opened last week, is entered up a flight of steps and into a windy plaza, the fast food outlets lining the plaza on both sides have yet to open.

In the windy plaza the paving slabs are already being dug up and relaid.

The drain running through the middle does not appear to be working as already being cleaned out.

There are some strange structures, a little over a foot high, difficult to know whether these are works of art or seats. Located in the middle of the thoroughfare, ideal trip hazards.

Either they have appeared since last week, or I failed to notice, wooden park bench seats. But why a strip of metal bent around the front of the seat? Ideal to rip trousers or skirt on.

Last week Morrisons was very busy, especially Monday when it opened. Today almost empty, people rattling around link peas in a pod, barely more than half the cash tills open. Begs the question what happens to the staff who were on the tills, are they sent home with no pay? Zero hours contracts? By the closed tills, a metal barrier at knee height, an ideal trip hazard.

Breakfast from the cafe very poor, marginally better than would get in centre of Aldershot, which is not saying a lot.

Walking down into the town centre from Upper union Street, into Union Street, and looking down into the town, the town empty, the street all but deserted.

There are still no street signs directing people from Westgate into the town. Deliberate?

I looked in the YMCA shop and was told the town centre was now dead, Westgate having killed the town. Looking out from the shop, the street deserted, as though in a ghost town.

For some shops, less than 10% loss of trade will be sufficient to put them out of businesses. Each time a shop closes, less reason to venture into Aldershot. At a tipping point, once one or two shops go, rapid domino collapse.

The only busy day is market day which pulls people into Aldershot. Last week the market was dead. The fruit and vegetable stall usually very popular was empty. It will only take a few weeks like this for the fruit and vegetable stall to pull out. If the fruit and vegetable stall pulls out, the market will collapse as the other stalls are selling tat.

Without exception, the local council is blamed for destroying the town.

Once again it raises big question the mentality of the leader of the council and chief executive to destroy their own town centre.

Westgate

October 30, 2012
Westgate ugly eyesore on edge of Victorian town centre

Westgate ugly eyesore on edge of Victorian town centre

Westgate is indeed a comprehensive scheme that will be a fantastic asset for Aldershot and its residents. … all round it is great news and I’m delighted to see it opening. — Peter Moyle, council leader Rotten Borough of Rushmoor

It’s just a fantastic addition to the town and will be a huge boost to residents. … Westgate will serve as an excellent conduit to the town centre itself. — Andrew Lloyd, chief executive Rotten Borough of Rushmoor

Westgate is an appalling eyesore of a development literally on the edge of Aldershot town centre, totally out of character with a Victorian town.

At least that is how it looks from the outside, looking from the town centre. Within not a lot better.

Outside two blocks of stone causing an obstruction. Edge on, barely visibly, the stone similar colour and blending in with the paving stones. A hazard for anyone with poor eyesight.

Entry to Westgate is up a flight of steps (there is also a slope for wheelchairs and cyclists). This leads into a stark, windswept plaza. Freezing cold in the winter, very hot in the summer. The design is very reminiscent of old Soviet Bloc architecture.

Lampposts have at their base a raised block about a brick in height. An ideal trip hazard for anyone not looking where they are going or of poor eyesight.

None are yet open, when complete, the plaza will be lined either side with tacky fast food chain restaurants.

Through the plaza, to the left a broad flight of steps leading down into the plaza and a travelator that leads down to an underground car park.

The car park is free, time limited to three hours. If only three hours in Aldershot, then the place to park to avoid expensive car parks.

Wandering around the plaza, more people than would see in the centre of Aldershot.

Then Morrisons.

I am no great fan of Morrisons, I would usually place near the bottom with Asda and Tesco.

Walking in, I was struck by the size, the sheer number of people, and that it was open and airy.

There was more people in Morrisons than you would see in Aldershot town centre in a month, maybe in a year.

Wandering around I was struck that this was not a typical Morrisons. It seemed to be aimed to compete with Waitrose, but with Tesco or Asda prices. Lots of fresh produce, fruit and vegetables, fresh fish, raw meat, cooked meat, a bakery. The meat section was making sausages on the premises, the bakery preparing tarts using fresh fruits. Though on closer inspection the cheeses were not of the quality of Waitrose and you do not slice cooked meats then leave to dry out.

Morrisons has its only little café. A dumb system, queue at one till to order, then queue at another till to pay. This is the norm for Morrisons. Cakes are on open display for everyone to cough and sneeze over. Scampi, peas and chips, not very good, but then on the other hand par for the course for Aldershot where nowhere decent to eat.

I had a chat with a lady who was there as an advisor to Morrisons. She said, yes, this was a different Morrisons, they had opened a couple like it in Scotland. She called it a Store of the Future.

Leaving Morrisons, I wandered into the town. No signposts pointing into the town centre, only a few pendants flapping in the wind on lampposts.

Upper Union Street leads into Union Street. The pavement flows across the road. I realised I was walking into the road. Very dangerous.

The Morrisons is going to kill the centre of Aldershot dead. It is probably going to have a big impact on local supermarkets too, as far better. It will also impact on the fruit and vegetable stalls on the Thursday market, one of the few reasons to visit Aldershot. The fishmonger on the market is unlikely to survive.

Maybe there will be some trickle down into the town, though I saw no evidence of this. What was the centre of town now becomes the bottom end of town. Maybe the top end of Union Street, which is usually dead, will see a few more people.

I passed a Nepalese café with a girl outside handing out leaflets. I cannot see anyone going in it. It looked dirty, the door was wide open, meaning it would have been freezing cold inside.

For anyone coming in on the No 1 bus from Camberley, Frimley or Farnborough, access is easy. Get off at Princess Hall and walk up the steps. It needs a bus stop outside Princess Hall for the return journey.

A couple alighted off the bus with me, and asked where to go. I showed them. They also asked where was the town centre.

From Westgate it is not obvious where the town centre is.

It is unbelievable the local council has not erected signposts directing people from Westgate into the town centre. How many months have they had?

From Upper Union Street crossing the road into Union Street, there needs to be a pedestrian crossing, a zebra crossing, not so much to help people across the road (though that is always useful), but to actually alert people that they are crossing the road.

The fast food chains when they open will drain money out of the local economy. Morrisons may bring people in from further afield. There may be some trickle down of people from the development into the town centre but so far the local council has done nothing to encourage this. The only money flowing into the local economy will be from the minimum wage staff, and unless they were previously unemployed, will only have relocated from other jobs. A supermarket of this size destroys a thousand jobs in the local economy.

Aldershot is a deprived area, the town centre a slum of fast food restaurants, gambling joints, charity shops and large bars. A place most people avoid. The last thing it needs is yet more money drained out of the local economy.

The impression given is that the local council, the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor as it is known locally, is deliberately trying to destroy Aldershot. Somewhat perversely they are promoting this developmental on the front page of their website. Even more perverse that they were co-promoters of the development.

What local council wishes to destroy its own town centre?

Other actions indicate a desire to destroy Aldershot

The Arcade, what was the centre, but must now be seen as the bottom end of the town centre, is a plastic replica of a Victorian arcade that once stood on the same site. All the small retailers kicked out to make way for a large bar (Wetherspoon) and a large retail store (Poundland). An unwanted redevelopment that was not good for the town, and yet the planners fell over backwards to push it through on behalf of the developers. For once the councillors on the planning committee showed a bit of backbone and threw the application out.

If the tacky fast food chains kill off KFC and McDonald’s, then some good has come of Westgate.

What though of Aldershot?

The only way the town centre will survive is with specialist shops, something to bring people into the town, and yet these are the very businesses the local council has for years been doing its best to kill off.

The couple I walked though the plaza with, I asked them would they come from Camberley to any of the fast food chains. They said no, why would they come from Camberley for something that was in Camberley. They added all towns looked the same, with the same shops.

Aldershot has a town centre manager. But that is a non-job.

A town survives because of its hard working small retailers.

Aldershot needs a Master Plan, people with vision to draw it up, but that will not come from the council as they are without vision.

Aldershot bid for Mary Portas cash. They failed. But it would only have been frittered away. And the money available was less than a major retail chain would spend on a store refit.

Westgate also has a Travelodge and a Cinema. Begs the question why would anyone wish to stay in Aldershot. The cinema opened last week, just in time for the release of the new James Bond film Skyfall.

All Westgate does is relocate the centre of retail gravity away from the town centre and towards Westgate, whilst at the same time draining money out of the local economy.

Westgate is the local council delivering the final death blow to Aldershot as a viable town centre.