If you have been walking around Wycombe town centre recently you may have seen the work taking place on the building at the corner of White Hart Street and Bull Lane.
Only a few days ago a news item appeared on this very site headlined ‘Refurbishment work starts on former bookshop building in White Hart Street, High Wycombe‘ which gives details of the work being carried out.
Apparently ‘The aim is to convert the ground floor to two units with A3 café/bar/restaurant use, with a shared covered external seating area. The first floor is to be converted in to a stylish design studio/office with its own entrance in Bull Lane. The conversion works are expected to start in August 2019.‘
Upon learning this my good self sighed and exclaimed out loud ‘Not another café!‘.
It seems Wycombe is still healing from the dreadful mistake of building a new shopping centre eleven years ago.
Anyone living in the town at that time can remember all the retailers moving into the shiny new shopping centre leaving behind a trail of empty units throughout the rest of the town centre. A high number of ‘To Let’ boards sprang up like nooses hanging over the empty shops as a reminder of the decimation the new shopping centre caused to the ‘old’ town centre.
Nowadays the solution to all the empty shops appears to be ‘open a café’, this of course is the easy way out rather than encouraging shops to start in the town that sell useful things.
So what should go in the building rather than a café?
Well, given its location and the high number of homeless people in the immediate vicinity of White Hart Street would it not have been better to use the building to help the homeless?
In my opinion the building would have been better used as a ‘homeless hub’ in the town centre by bringing all the services that help the homeless together in one location.
For example the building could contain a permanent night shelter that operates all year round, a feeding station, clothes washing facilities, a community fridge, homeless support services, support to find work and the like. They could even give free music lessons so the old guy with the harmonica who sits outside the entrance to the shopping centre can at least play in tune.
Sadly yours truly fears that ‘co-ordination’ is one thing that Wycombe lacks when it comes to planning and instead a snazzy café will pop up.
Can you imagine sitting in the café tucking into a cream tea then looking out the window to see a homeless person wrapped in a dirty duvet begging for money from passers by.
What about the homeless sitting on the pavement being taunted watching the people in the café tucking into their food while the homeless person sits on the pavement outside with an empty stomach?
Indeed it could only happen in High Wycombe!
What do you think?
My blogs are published regularly here on the WycombeToday.com website.