Two and half city living

imagesP6748L1XAccording to the Brighton & Hove Economic Partnership, we have 1450 retail outlets across the city centre area, which compares to about 580 in cities and towns of a similar size and profile elsewhere. They are suggesting that at some point this figure will need to be reviewed “change is coming and although Brighton can capitalise on its unique position with the largest collection of independent retailers in the south east, eventually it too will have to adapt to a retail landscape in which internet shopping grows at 10%+ per annum”. This statement has come as the economic partnership reflect on a national review of city centres which is calling for Councils and Business leaders to pay attention to the impact of internet shopping and other changes. The challenge for the economic partnership, the Council (including all parties) and vitally for us as residents is to agree to accept that some change is inevitable and that we need to find a mechanism for helping to shape this change. If we do plan for change, we can of course be certain that not all of the ideas will succeed, but if we don’t begin to discuss what the city centre(s) could and perhaps should look like, the change when it comes will be decided by lots of individual and unconnected decisions, some of which will have consequences which we all regret afterwards.

The advantage of establishing some form of strategy or vision for the city centre (or publicising the one that exists if there is one) is that we can all have confidence that the housing which is a pressing need in the city is being considered alongside the retention of the diverse mix of our retail offer. The risk of simply allowing the market to shape the city is that issues such as leases and decisions by parent companies will decide our city for us, as shops empty, squats and charity shops will move in in increasing numbers, these will impact the surrounding businesses and bit by bit all of the premises will slide towards a common destination. A plan that is understood and broadly agreed by as many as possible, offers the chance to design space that will help eliminate crime and anti-social behaviour, to create new jobs and skills for our residents, to deal with transport issues as well as allowing a number of shopping areas to be retained by design, not merely by accident.

About ianchisnall

I am passionate about the need for public policies to be made accessible to everyone, especially those who want to improve the wellbeing of their communities. I am particularly interested in issues related to crime and policing as well as health services and strategic planning.
This entry was posted in Economics, Parliament and Democracy, Planning Rules and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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