Web Analytics

Opinion : How could Wycombe town centre adapt if there is a recession?

| April 15, 2020
Image

Demolition of the former Hogs Head pub in Oxford Road, High Wycombe. Picture taken from the Dovecot Service Road that ran behind the pub. (Archive picture)

Following on from the virus it’s possible a recession will grip the country.

According to reports in some national newspapers ‘Britain faces biggest economic shock in 300 years if coronavirus lockdown extends to summer‘ and the ‘‘Great Lockdown’ is to rival Great Depression with 3% hit to global economy, says IMF‘.

Only time will tell if the country suffers a ‘lock down recession’ or even a ‘lock down depression’. However the longer the country is ‘closed for business’ surely the harsher the economic consequences will be?

Let’s face it many shops were struggling before the virus hit.

In the past few months stories of large stores entering administration only to be saved to live another day were abound in the business news of many national publications. Indeed on this very website there were reports of shops in High Wycombe town centre closing.

In recent months it seems trading conditions have been difficult for many retailers and businesses, a recession will surely finish many of them off and affect the towns they were trading in. High Wycombe may be no exception.

Once upon a time Wycombe town centre was a nice place to go shopping. Even up to the 1970’s and 80’s there were lots of independent shops as well as branches of larger stores located in the ‘historic’ High Street and Frogmoor areas of town.

Then in 2008 a large shopping centre was built at great cost to propel Wycombe into the top fifty (something) shopping destinations in the country.

As many will know the shopping centre was too big and the town’s retailers moved into the shiny new complex leaving a trail of empty retail units in the old town centre with ‘To Let’ boards hovering above like albatrosses.

In fact the new shopping complex was so big that for years some units remained empty.

The shiny new complex didn’t have any doors and the roof only partially covered the shopping malls. To many the building was a regarded as damp wind tunnel. Indeed, writing for another news publication at the time, my good self called for the new complex to be demolished as it failed to meet basic expectations and had decimated the old historic town centre.

My good self fears the shiny complex may take a tumble if there’s a recession or depression and lots of retailers close or worse still the shoppers continue to¬† ‘stay at home’ (as discussed in my last blog ‘When the ‘lock down’ ends will life return to normal?‘)

Maybe now is the time to do a little pro-active ‘town planning’ and get Wycombe ready for a post-Covid recession?

So, yours truly is asking the question ‘Should the shopping complex be demolished to realign the shopping facilities in High Wycombe?

In my humble opinion Wycombe never needed such a gargantuan shopping complex, indeed building it was a great mistake. The proportion of empty retail units in the town centre is too high at the moment and a recession will surely only make it worse.

It’s unlikely that new shops will open while trading conditions are bad so maybe now is the time to get Wycombe ready for the future and demolish the wet and windy shopping centre and use the land for something more useful?

Perhaps the old Bridge Street car park could be rebuilt and the magnificent Newlands Bus station re-opened so we don’t have to track all the way up to Bridge Street to get a bus?

Image

The entrance to the Bridge Street car park in Bridge Street, High Wycombe. (Archive picture)

Image

Newlands Bus Station, High Wycombe. (Archive picture)

In my opinion Wycombe has more than enough retail and office units in the historic part of town. I fear any potential Covid-recession may well expose the folly of building an oversized shopping complex in a town that possibly didn’t need one.

What do you think?

My blogs are published regularly here on the WycombeToday.com website.

You can also follow me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ivor.wycombe or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Ivor_Wycombe.

Comments are closed.