The modern town centre has had one constant for hundreds of years, its people. Unfortunately, in recent years the people and their requirements have been largely ignored in favour of the requirements of local authorities and their desire to bring in big businesses.
The people who visit a town centre are the ones who should be consulted regarding what they want to have available. A town centre was historically the place a community came together. Initially for trading but also for community events and to obtain information regarding what was happening locally.
Nowadays a town centre is full of shops, many of them chains whose only interest is making money. There is very little interaction between the businesses and no interest in the local community in many cases.
How many town centres have a place where the elderly are welcome to meet, have a coffee and catch up with each other? How about a place where mothers with young children can come and support each other? Local crafters could come together and hold workshops working collaboratively to support each other. Recycling and upcycling could help teach trades and help those in need of furniture at reasonable prices.
Wouldn’t it be great if instead of offering discounts and incentives to faceless multinationals, Local Government offered the same opportunities to local community groups? Wouldn’t it be great if local community groups were able to showcase the skills in their local communities?
So many town centres have empty premises which could be used by the community to make a vibrant centre for the community. It’s time local councils stopped clinging on to outdated ideas and started to embrace the resources on their doorstep.