Since before I became the town’s MP, a regular theme in Bucks Herald has been how to improve theattractiveness and vitality of Aylesbury’s town centre.
Some problems spring from crass planning decisions by previous generations.
In Aylesbury, as in so many English towns, the 1960s and ‘70s saw ancient street patterns, old coaching inns, and quirky, interesting streetscapes bulldozed in the name of progress.
As a result, the town is less attractive to shoppers and tourists than it could have been.
Other challenges stem from social changes for which we, as consumers , are responsible.
We have chosen to do more of our shopping at supermarkets or online. If a small, independent shop doesn’t have the thing we want in stock, we don’t wait for it to be ordered in – we go elsewhere. Internet shopping is more developed in Britain than in almost any other country, and is set to grow further.
There’s little point railing against these changes. If you have a demanding job and a family, it’s quicker, cheaper and more convenient to do a big shop at a supermarket than to hike up and down the High Street several times a week as I remember my mother doing when I was little.
Local councils and others have made a big effort to improve things. The theatre and the cinema are real assets to the town. The growing reputation of Aylesbury College and the creation of a university presence there are pulling more students into town. Friars Square today is a vast improvement on the original concrete monstrosity.
But other places- Wycombe, Hemel, Bicester- are also changing to attract customers.
Aylesbury cannot relax. Waitrose opening here has strengthened the town’s retail offer.
Now, AVDC is asking local people to comment on their Town Centre Improvement Plan which aims to make Aylesbury the ‘destination of choice’ for the 238,000 people living within a 25 minute drive.
There’s lots of ideas: about leisure, entertainment, shopping, transport. If we want our say, we now have the chance.
A bustling, attractive town centre is something we all want to see.
> Consultation ends on September 13 and is available online.