Important year for our town centres

2014 will be an important year for our high streets, thinks Neil
2014 will be an important year for our high streets, thinks Neil

We are on the cusp of a new year, and one that will shape the future for our town centres and retail more than most.

HMV’s decision to leave the Newlands Shopping Centre in Kettering is a major blow, but provides yet more evidence that the way we all shop has changed and that our town centres need to change with them.

And this is what makes Rushden Lakes such a good plan.

Blaming out-of-town shopping centres for the decline of town centres may be accurate, but they are here, the majority of people use them and they are not going away any time soon.

If you want to blame anyone for the state of our town centres, then blame the town hall officials up and down the land who allowed large retail parks to be built in the first place.

We cannot turn back time, close these parks down, pull the plug on the internet and force people to do their shopping in town centres.

But what we can do is make them attractive destinations for families who want to do some specialist shopping, enjoy a drink or a meal and be entertained.

Ask your friends and family where they spend the bulk of their money on shopping.

If it’s not an out-of-town retail park it will be a town centre supermarket or on the internet.

Please don’t misunderstand me, I want our town centres to be vibrant, modern places to spend time, but trying to build their futures entirely around retail will not bring the desired results.

Neil Pickford, Editor