The district council’s recent announcement that it seems likely funding will be available for the new public realm in front of the Odeon in the Exchange Street car park, is good news for the town.
In effect this will make Aylesbury a town with six public squares.
The new area will incorporate five new restaurants which means that, together with the proposed two restaurants and cafe by the canal basin, plus three in the Walton Street area, the town is heading towards it’s aim to be a ‘destination of choice’.
However, the question is whether these new restaurants are sustainable, and what impact will they have on the existing eating places in Town.
To attract more people, the Waterside Theatre will have to come up with a programme of productions people want to see, and it will also have to ensure that it is open seven days a week.
At weekends I always look through the entertainment sections of national newspapers, and Aylesbury Waterside is very rarely mentioned, either for touring productions or individual gigs. Oxford, Milton Keynes and High Wycombe theatres are invariably advertised extensively.
The more popular productions seem to go to these three venues.
The councils also have to play a part in attracting diners and theatregoers into town, and increasing evening parking charges will certainly not help this, although I do understand the need to balance budgets. Last year I wrote how good it was to see town centre pubs and restaurants heaving during Hobble on the Cobbles.
The Town Council, however, has put a dampener on this success by cancelling the event this year due to a muddle with dates.
The family events the ‘Proms in the Park’ and ‘Parklife’ held in the Vale will not benefit town centre eateries at all, because those attending invariably bring their own food and drink and I very much doubt whether they will venture into the town centre once the shows have finished.
The councils are sending out mixed messages for Aylesbury.
I just hope that the proposed and existing restaurants can be sustained, because without sufficient attractions to draw people into town, I don’t think they will.