BROMSGROVE needs a depedestrianised High Street, cheaper parking and a better mix of shops – that’s the view of directors from a town-based property consultant who have called for action to reverse the decline of the town centre.
John Truslove and Ian Parker from John Truslove chartered accountants said, in their opinion, those changes would entice shoppers back to Bromsgrove.
Mr Truslove said: “Parking is always the big issue, so let’s address it.
“Lack of parking, and the expense of what parking there is, will often deter people from picking a particular town for their shopping expedition – hence the popularity of out-of-town shopping parks where the parking is free and you can drive virtually to the door to load your shopping if necessary.”
Mr Parker said Bromsgrove did not feel like the market town it was and added there was not a varied mix of stores to entice people to shop there.
The pair called for both of those issues to be sorted out and added the final improvement they would like to see was depedestrianisation.
Mr Parker said: “At the moment, people drive along New Road and all they see is Poundland and empty shops.
“If they could drive down the High Street, they would see what Bromsgrove had to offer.”
Mr Truslove added: “Pedestrianisation doesn’t work – it leads to a major decline in footfall for those stores furthest from the available parking.
“A one-way system, with a maximum 20mph speed limit, and two hours of free parking provides the best of both worlds.
“Let’s try it and see the difference it makes.” he said.
The calls come as the High Street is being dug up so a new pedestrianised surface.
Mr Truslove said shopping was one of the most dynamic elements of the economy and added that, although an increasing amount of shopping was done online, consumers still liked to ‘browse’ and ‘touch and feel the goods’ – something Internet shopping could not offer.
Bromsgrove District Council’s portfolio holder for the town centre, Coun Rita Dent, said the authority welcomed any views which added to the High Street debate and said she hoped Mr Truslove would engage with the ongoing process like so many residents and local businesses.
“There are always counterpoints in such discussions of course, including the ability to enjoy clear high streets without traffic and the associated safety and air quality issues in narrow enclosed areas.
“However it is a fact that Mr Truslove’s comments come too late, for now.
“The town centre regeneration partnership is at this very moment delivering the kind of heritage-grade High Street that befits Bromsgrove’s status as an historic market town.
“Designed from the ground up, this has come out of many years of consultation that demonstrated the value that traders, disability groups and other groups attach to having completely clear access to the main shopping area, which a good pedestrianised area provides.
“To support that, ample, safe, high quality parking alongside and at both ends of the High Street is still cheaper than many comparable towns – from 80p an hour or £3 all day.”
* What do you think? What improvements do you think could make Bromsgrove Town Centre a more appealing place to shop? Email your views to email@example.com