FREE PRESS LETTERS: March 19, 2019
Town centre needs urgent investment
Regarding your front page report about the announcement of the Springfields Outlet expansion plans for the centre.
Firstly, I would welcome these proposals as the expansion would bring more stores to the area along with more jobs for local people that would improve the local economy.
I also note the improvements have already been backed by the recently passed Local Plan.
But my main concerns are what will this mean for our market town of Spalding.
Owner Triton Property along with Spingfields SLR outlets, have stated they will work alongside South Holland District Council to build up the footfall in Spalding town centre.
Being local, like so many people who like to support our town centre and local businesses, I would like to see some firm committment from Springfields and our local council to invest in our town centre and introduce some fair balance for our town.
If not I can see the further demise of our once vibrant market town centre in the heart of Lincolnshire.
Secondly, I do realise town centres across the country are undergoing major changes, with unemployment and part-time work still suffering as a result of the credit crunch.
Also, the British Retail Consortium shows that consumer spending on the internet continues to increase and shopping outlet and malls have seen an increase in visitors of over 30 per cent in spite of the economic downturn.
In the British High Street, including what I see locally, is more mobile phone shops, more charity shops, convenience stores, chemists, food specialists. We are seeing less clothing and footwear, books/toys/CDs, confectionery, off- licenses and less electricals.
If you asked people years ago why they go into town, they would say it was to shop. Ask them today and they might say because they want to go into town as shopping has become an element of leisure outings rather than the sole purpose of visits.
This is why our town centre needs urgent investment so it can offer more. If not people are bound to go elsewhere and that is not what I want from this proposed plan.
Perhaps there has been a gross oversight here from the local authorities as town centre performance has skewed towards daytime economy. What about the evening and night-time economies in a world where many businesses and, increasingly, public services operate on a 24 hour basis.
However the balance between town centre offer, customer demand and expectations needs to be addressed, not neglected. I will be attending the public consultation on Saturday, March 23 from 10am as a local supporter of our market town.