My heart sank as I read the current plans for the redevelopment of the Beales and Debenhams site with more retail, leisure, and food & beverage (Bedford Independent, 6 November).
It really looks as though we have learned nothing over the last three years. The growth of out-of-town retail centres and internet shopping vastly accelerated by the Covid crisis, means that town centre retail needs to decrease not increase.
We should take every opportunity to reduce the number of retail outlets.
When the Riverside North development was completed, it shut down many of the then-flourishing restaurants in the Castle Lane area. Others have since come and gone. There aren’t unlimited customers for Bedford restaurants so opening more restaurants will close down others.
Planning for a town centre reduction is far more difficult than planning for expansion, but with the Beales/Debenhams site, we have the opportunity to do so.
It’s a comfortable walk/bicycle/scooter journey to the station. Demolish the existing buildings and get more potential customers living in the town centre, rather than fighting a losing battle to maintain its recent size.
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