If you’re a shopaholic, then you’ll probably agree that Aylesbury has come a long way in the past few years.
The town’s balance sheet of incoming assets would show a rejuvenated Friars Square Shopping Centre containing H&M and Topshop, more choice with supermarkets, the arrival of popular restaurants and pubs like La Salute, Nando’s and Wetherspoon and, of course, a stunning new theatre.
There’s also much more in the pipeline with the Waterside shopping scheme and the huge new Sainsbury’s in Gatehouse, together with the regeneration of the canal basin.
Of course, there’s been outgoings too, like the loss of popular shops such as Woolworths and HMV, several stores in the Cloisters and some decent restaurants like 31 Below and La Tasca.
But it’s the loss of the Civic Centre, Jardines bowling alley and Aylesbury United that have left the biggest hole.
I welcome the councils’ ambitions to improve Aylesbury’s cultural offering with new art galleries and museums.
But as the dad of a tot who needs to be entertained, the town also needs to think a bit more low-brow. We have a deficit on our balance sheet’s ‘fun’ column. On a rainy day (and we get plenty of them) there’s only the cinema, swimming pool and Zoomania on my radar (if there’s more please let me know your suggestions!).
If Aldi and Sainsbury’s can find space for second stores, then surely we can find a home for a leisure centre containing attractions such as a bowling alley, arcade, ice rink, Qasar and crazy golf. Surely we can find a place where kids and community groups can hold their amateur dramatics at a reasonable fee?
And surely we can find a spot for Aylesbury United, which during its heyday attracted thousands of fans?
Maybe they could all go together – a huge leisure zone on the outskirts of town.
We reported a few weeks ago that agents in Berryfields are struggling to attract businesses to move into planned commercial units on the development. It would certainly make a great location for such a complex, right next to the new train station.
Now that would make Aylesbury’s balance sheet very healthy indeed.
PS: I was delighted to be promoted to deputy editor at the Herald, where I have worked for the last eight years. I grew up in the town and am very lucky to be able to play a part in covering a crucial point in the town’s history. Editor Roger Hawes remains at the paper, but is also now in charge of two other titles, so you will be hearing a bit more from me over the coming months.