I want to see the town centre zing

Good news is in short supply these days.

So it’s great to be able to celebrate the “Gold Award” which Capital and Regional plc, the big national property company, have received for their fantastic extension to The Mall Blackburn.

This award, as this paper reported earlier this week, was made by the British Council of Shopping Centres, who really do know what does and does not work in the current retail environment.

One aspect of the new Mall development which particularly impressed the judges was the partnership approach between Capital & Regional, and Blackburn with Darwen Council.

But, as ever, this is no time for complacency.

The award’s presentation coincides with the publication of the independent review of the future of our high streets conducted by the retail expert Mary Portas, for the Government.

In her report Ms Portas says that “our high streets have reached crisis point”.

Few can doubt that as a generalisation.

I want to see Blackburn town centre really zing; but I visit plenty of towns across the country, and many of their centres are in bad way; for some, their condition is almost terminal.

Ms Portas charts what has happened, nationally.

In 2000, town centres accounted for half (49.4per cent) of all retail sales.

Today the share is 42.5 per cent.

In three years it will be below 40 per cent.

The biggest change, unsurprisingly has been in “non-store” sales — ie the internet — which has doubled from 5 per cent to 10 per cent over the same period, and will go on rising.

That growth has however hardly affected local neighbourhood shops; and out- of-town stores have increased their share. It’s the high street which has taken the hit.

Crucially, Ms Portas says that Ministers must have special powers to control out-of-town developments.

She’s right.

An early test will be in respect of the plan to extend the Whitebirk shopping centre, which could harm Accrington in particular.

It’s not all gloom.

Some town centres are bucking the trend — Barnsley, Brixton, Coventry are all named. We have the foundation to make sure that Blackburn’s in that list too.

We just have to make sure that happens.

Comments (8)

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8:15pm Thu 15 Dec 11

district01 says...

There’s even better news Jack just in case you haven’t noticed it.

"The American’s have all gone home from Iraq!"

Do you remember what happened there. If you do how about telling us truthfully all about it. Hand on heart?

But isn't it such a pity that you got so tied up within the Tony Bliar self promotional partnership. What a way to end a career!
There’s even better news Jack just in case you haven’t noticed it. "The American’s have all gone home from Iraq!" Do you remember what happened there. If you do how about telling us truthfully all about it. Hand on heart? But isn't it such a pity that you got so tied up within the Tony Bliar self promotional partnership. What a way to end a career! district01

8:22pm Thu 15 Dec 11

Kevin, Colne says...

Jack,

Some worthy sentiments but I cannot help but feel that what we are seeing here is the governing class behind the curve, as usual, and attempting to shut the stable door long after the horse has bolted. Still, better late than never.

Aubrey Adams, Chairman of Max Property Group plc, hit the nail on the head when reporting the last set of interim results for the company he observed: 'Many shopping centres and high streets have in our view a rising embedded vacancy rate that is yet to be adequately reflected in market pricing'. (Interim Report, p.3)

Here in Colne the number of shops vacant for a prolonged period of time is quite noticeable, along with other independent retailers announcing their impending closure.

It's true that some centres will be able to 'zing', and I hope that Blackburn and Burnley is among 'em, but a great many other centres will simply 'zong'.

With the economy in the North sliding into slump I cannot see the situation improving much in the near term.
Jack, Some worthy sentiments but I cannot help but feel that what we are seeing here is the governing class behind the curve, as usual, and attempting to shut the stable door long after the horse has bolted. Still, better late than never. Aubrey Adams, Chairman of Max Property Group plc, hit the nail on the head when reporting the last set of interim results for the company he observed: 'Many shopping centres and high streets have in our view a rising embedded vacancy rate that is yet to be adequately reflected in market pricing'. (Interim Report, p.3) Here in Colne the number of shops vacant for a prolonged period of time is quite noticeable, along with other independent retailers announcing their impending closure. It's true that some centres will be able to 'zing', and I hope that Blackburn and Burnley is among 'em, but a great many other centres will simply 'zong'. With the economy in the North sliding into slump I cannot see the situation improving much in the near term. Kevin, Colne

9:31pm Thu 15 Dec 11

Blue Peter says...

I'm sorry Jack but we do not have the foundations to make this happen. Not if you go by the the political voting I witnessed at tonights Blackburn planning committee meeting. Thanks to labour they have consigned a nice multiracial area of Blackburn to degeneration and social devision by voting politically for the Beardwood Prayer Room. Through pressure from the top the labour members of the committee had to approve it! This is no foundation to re muster the fortunes of BLackburn, its a a group of people making sure "I'm alright Jack" at whatever cost!!
I'm sorry Jack but we do not have the foundations to make this happen. Not if you go by the the political voting I witnessed at tonights Blackburn planning committee meeting. Thanks to labour they have consigned a nice multiracial area of Blackburn to degeneration and social devision by voting politically for the Beardwood Prayer Room. Through pressure from the top the labour members of the committee had to approve it! This is no foundation to re muster the fortunes of BLackburn, its a a group of people making sure "I'm alright Jack" at whatever cost!! Blue Peter

12:28am Sat 17 Dec 11

woolywords says...

A small but very pertinant point here that should be considered by many.
Footfall in the new Mall is alleged to be high but no mention of sales figures from retailers. I suspect that this due to the large numbers using it as a short cut or meeting point, with many using it to view passing members of the opposite sex.
I recently squandered nearly a whole day browsing the shops for Xmas gifts, then comparing the same products online. Sad to say, the internet won, with free delivery and prices often as much as 40% below the in-store prices.
It would be easy to point the finger at who the culprits are but this is the season of goodwill to all men, including those whom set the business rates and/or rents.
A small but very pertinant point here that should be considered by many. Footfall in the new Mall is alleged to be high but no mention of sales figures from retailers. I suspect that this due to the large numbers using it as a short cut or meeting point, with many using it to view passing members of the opposite sex. I recently squandered nearly a whole day browsing the shops for Xmas gifts, then comparing the same products online. Sad to say, the internet won, with free delivery and prices often as much as 40% below the in-store prices. It would be easy to point the finger at who the culprits are but this is the season of goodwill to all men, including those whom set the business rates and/or rents. woolywords

12:42pm Sun 18 Dec 11

cj316 says...

What would really be good news is to see what (if anything) you mr Straw is doing to get our dear friend Dino back to this country where he could have a fair trial. I personally coudn't care less about gold awards for shopping centres, am more interested in human rights. many blessings for Chrstmas and the New year
What would really be good news is to see what (if anything) you mr Straw is doing to get our dear friend Dino back to this country where he could have a fair trial. I personally coudn't care less about gold awards for shopping centres, am more interested in human rights. many blessings for Chrstmas and the New year cj316

5:08pm Sun 18 Dec 11

manyarecalled says...

These Malls are soulless places , where every one is so similar , it doesn't matter which one you go to.
the shops are chain stores , with products that you didn't know you needed , and the products and advice that you do want are not available. hence the Internet.
far more interesting and convenient to have a linear town , with traditional shops . these of course are fast disappearing.
These Malls are soulless places , where every one is so similar , it doesn't matter which one you go to. the shops are chain stores , with products that you didn't know you needed , and the products and advice that you do want are not available. hence the Internet. far more interesting and convenient to have a linear town , with traditional shops . these of course are fast disappearing. manyarecalled

9:07pm Mon 19 Dec 11

simmobb2 says...

Blue Peter wrote:
I'm sorry Jack but we do not have the foundations to make this happen. Not if you go by the the political voting I witnessed at tonights Blackburn planning committee meeting. Thanks to labour they have consigned a nice multiracial area of Blackburn to degeneration and social devision by voting politically for the Beardwood Prayer Room. Through pressure from the top the labour members of the committee had to approve it! This is no foundation to re muster the fortunes of BLackburn, its a a group of people making sure "I'm alright Jack" at whatever cost!!
A disgraceful decision that will result in major congestion on Beardwood which will, inevitably, lead to accidents / incidents. 50-60 people expected with 4 car parking spaces. Watch this space (sic)
[quote][p][bold]Blue Peter[/bold] wrote: I'm sorry Jack but we do not have the foundations to make this happen. Not if you go by the the political voting I witnessed at tonights Blackburn planning committee meeting. Thanks to labour they have consigned a nice multiracial area of Blackburn to degeneration and social devision by voting politically for the Beardwood Prayer Room. Through pressure from the top the labour members of the committee had to approve it! This is no foundation to re muster the fortunes of BLackburn, its a a group of people making sure "I'm alright Jack" at whatever cost!![/p][/quote]A disgraceful decision that will result in major congestion on Beardwood which will, inevitably, lead to accidents / incidents. 50-60 people expected with 4 car parking spaces. Watch this space (sic) simmobb2

11:40pm Mon 19 Dec 11

halfhearted says...

Its alright saying you want a vibrant Town Centre Jack,so do most people who were brought up in the town. But thanks to the local government and indeed your good self this will never happen.
For a town to be vibrant you also need a nightlife to follow on from the daytime activities.
Can you remember those days Jack? We had a town full of pubs,the Mecca and Cavendish Club. People came by the coachload for a night out.
Sadly this as all gone,never to return,and why?
Because Blackburn has become a centre where the ethnic minority has been allowed more power than those that were born and bred in the town.
I'm not saying these people were not welcome,yes they were,but they found that the powers that be were an easy touch,so more and more came. Have they intergrated? No they havn't and they have forced their way of life upon everybody,they have taken over areas of the town and killed off all the local traditions.
These people will openly tell you it is their town,they have gained a foothold into the administration of the town,they dictate what is to happen.
I am a realist Jack,not a racist and if you took off your Politically tinted spectacles you would admit that I am right.
The town that was is finished,and no matter what is said by yourself and other Politicians the situation is beyond recovery.
Its alright saying you want a vibrant Town Centre Jack,so do most people who were brought up in the town. But thanks to the local government and indeed your good self this will never happen. For a town to be vibrant you also need a nightlife to follow on from the daytime activities. Can you remember those days Jack? We had a town full of pubs,the Mecca and Cavendish Club. People came by the coachload for a night out. Sadly this as all gone,never to return,and why? Because Blackburn has become a centre where the ethnic minority has been allowed more power than those that were born and bred in the town. I'm not saying these people were not welcome,yes they were,but they found that the powers that be were an easy touch,so more and more came. Have they intergrated? No they havn't and they have forced their way of life upon everybody,they have taken over areas of the town and killed off all the local traditions. These people will openly tell you it is their town,they have gained a foothold into the administration of the town,they dictate what is to happen. I am a realist Jack,not a racist and if you took off your Politically tinted spectacles you would admit that I am right. The town that was is finished,and no matter what is said by yourself and other Politicians the situation is beyond recovery. halfhearted

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