A Square Deal? More on the ‘development’; Time to get round the table?

A staggering response to the last post, it seems that the majority aren’t happy, either.

Reading your comments,  on here, Facebook and Twitter, it seems you’re not happy for the following reasons:

  • The lack of notice regarding the consultation exhibition.
  • The timing – when most people are stuck at work- of the exhibition.
  • The lack of ambition of the plans
  • The lack of a coherant complete plan for Beeston

The first point is one that didn’t just affect the people of Beeston, but also it’s politicians. It seems that a few were told, but for their own reasons, decided not to flag up this info. Please ask your councillor when they knew, and why they didn’t let you know beforehand. Their details can be found here. It’s also been suggested that some Tory councillors were very aware of this…but decided not to shout about it. Other rumours suggest Beeston West Councillors, both Labour, also knew, but didn’t inform others: hence Pat and Lynda Lally, as well as Steve Barber and Frank Prince (and possibly many more) only found out at the last moment. If you have more info to refute or confirm these rumours, please send in a comment.

The timing is also a moot point, it did seem rather buried, though the exhibition was actually well-attended, according to Henry Boot. Miss it? Well, you can now view the plans here.

The lack of ambition, however, seems to be the issue you’re most disappointed about. I agree, it looks less like a complete renewal and more like a tidying up exercise. The lack of a confirmed anchor store, the retention of most of the Square’s features such as the bandstand and Stumpy, who we have long campaigned to have moved to a more sympathetic site; and the non-return of Wilkos. This isn’t entirely down to Henry Boot, however. They don’t own the land south and north of the Square, so they can’t do much there. Wilkos were offered plenty of option to return, with Henry Boot bending over backwards to secure their return. A large unit was set aside and provision made for a service yard, but wilkos took the money and ran. Anchor stores, such as M&S and Waitrose have been grinding down the rumour mill for a while, and I have it on very good authority that Waitrose were all but signed up. Commercial confidentiality prevents HB from disclosing who they are in talks with, though Costa Coffee are all but confirmed (bad news for the wonderful independant cafes that Beeston boasts). Have HB been so frustrated with planning obfuscation and lack of council support they have shrugged their shoulders, cut their losses and just rehashed the Lace Market tram stop? I really can’t lay too much blame on them if this is so. Again, as with the tram, as with Tesco, the politics of the issue muddy the waters.

This leads onto the last point. We have a fantastic town. The University gives us a constant stream of vitality. We’re soon to have a fast and efficent way to get here from the campus and town. Some of our shops are utterly unique, and we’ve managed to prevent the vile creep  of Everytownism seep in. People like living here, we’re a pretty little town, nicely pedestrinised. We, however, need to sort a lot out. It’s taken over a decade just to get the renovation of one corner off the draughtsman’s desk. This is simply unacceptable.

It’s time to demand an ambitious, coherant, joined up plan. Nothing else will do: it is the only way we can avoid the unsustainable, incongruous mess our town threatens to become. I therefore propose a public meeting, involving local politicians, developers, and, most importantly, the public. Let’s ALL sit down, and thrash out a plan. If no-one else is willing to run it, I will, and most importantly, while the public consultancy is underway (so, within the next fortnight). Whose in? Let me know, and I’ll get cracking pulling together the right people. Email me directly at mattgoold23@hotmail.com.