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Opinion : Losing the town centre department store should be a wake up call for High Wycombe

| June 7, 2018

Isn’t it terrible news that High Wycombe is to lose the flagship department store in the towns main shopping centre?

When the news article entitled ‘House of Fraser stores in High Wycombe and Aylesbury set to close‘ appeared in the news section of this site earlier today my good self wasn’t surprised however I was extremely disappointed.

It’s disappointing because Wycombe will soon be losing one of the best shops in the town centre that sells quality, upmarket goods in a pleasant and friendly environment.

It’s also disappointing because, as the closure must surely demonstrate, our town is not capable of supporting a high class department store in the town centre.

First we lose Murray’s department store then we lose House of Fraser. It says a lot about our town and the state its in.

But the plain fact is that Wycombe is a town whose very construction contradicts itself. The town entices high class shops that Lord Singleton-Dudshampton is very likely to want to visit but places them in a shopping centre without a proper roof that covers all the shopping malls, without doors and which has a nasty wind effect feature that gives wind-tunnel like properties suitable for the aerodynamic testing of an aeroplane.

Of course His Lordship isn’t going to want to leave his Rolls in the former Newlands Car Park or be hum bungled negotiating the dreadfully narrowed streets that have been the victim of a dose of Masterplanning.

Anyone straying outside the bounds of the shopping centre is likely to encounter the vagrants begging in White Hart Street or be the victim of a charity mugger in the High Street.

Would someone who has just purchased a £1,000 dress in an up market department store want to have it ruined by a cloud of smoke from a converted oil drum used for cooking food on a High Street market stall selling food?

The loss of the town centre’s main flagship store should be a wake up call for High Wycombe. But I fear it wont be.

Things will probably carry on just the same with the powers that be playing a game of pass the blame before putting a positive spin on the news in the hope of fooling the townspeople into thinking things are all right.

In my opinion a change in the structure of local municipal government in our town can’t come soon enough however my good self fears it will be too late and more town centre stores will close before things get better entrenching the stagnation that has bubbled away under the surface in High Wycombe for years.

If Wycombe has any sense the great and good would try to entice the department store into staying open with a package of emergency measures aimed at making trading more palatable as well as improvements to the shopping environment in the town.

Of course this would require leadership, a strong vision and above all an acceptance that there is a problem with shopping ambience in the town centre. Therefore it’s unlikely to happen.

I wonder which retailer will take over the premises when the department store vacates in early 2019? Could Wycombe see the former premises of the department store turned into the UK’s biggest ‘vape shop’, charity shop or fast food restaurant?

What do you think?

My blogs are published every Tuesday and Friday evening around 8.00pm here on the WycombeToday.com website.

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