ESTATES: Town will be losing out
In a letter in the Northumberland Gazette, Rory Wilson, Northumberland Estates’ agent, stated that: ‘Contrary to common belief, Northumberland Estates owns little retail property in Alnwick.’ Thus, presumably, it has little incentive to promote footfall into the town centre.
Northumberland Estates’ retail park, being constructed alongside the high school and promising M&S (Food), will challenge all the town’s food outlets.
It will certainly not encourage the 250,000 tourists envisaged by Coun Scott Dickinson, destined for the Lillidorei development at Alnwick Garden, to visit the town centre itself.
Nationally, the number of shops lying empty soared by more than 7,500 last year. How many lie empty in Alnwick? M&S, meanwhile, is in the process of closing 100 shops by 2022.
Perhaps there is a ‘doughnut’ strategy here, encouraging traffic travelling north and south off the A1 to the retail park to stock up, then a return straight back onto the A1. Welcome to the new Alnwick bypass.
The Alnwick Garden and castle don’t actually need the town. It is a self-contained commercial venture offering food, drink, entertainment and shops, etc. Its car parks are all located away from the town centre, eliminating the necessity for visitors to venture into Alnwick itself.
As Roy Allen observes in his earlier letter: ‘Alnwick’s appearance is cheap and scruffy.’
This was followed by: “The cleanest, smartest part of Alnwick is the Alnwick Garden.”
Is an Alnwick town centre regeneration possible? How, when, by whom?
Something for present councillors to at least consider.
Perhaps the town needed the £5million investment from the Government more than the Garden.
Will the dialogue between Lisa Anysley and Mark Brassell bring about greater footfall in the town?
Will the current high street survey promoted by the Northumberland Gazette galvanise action from the powers that be?
We can but hope.
Janet and Hal Platt,