A bold plan

PUBLISHED: 11:34 19 January 2006 | UPDATED: 09:27 06 May 2010

I understand the concerns of correspondents about the Letchworth town centre plans. This bold and imaginative scheme is bound to raise many issues. As an elected Heritage Foundation governor, I have had assurances at our meetings that every effort will be

I understand the concerns of correspondents about the Letchworth town centre plans. This bold and imaginative scheme is bound to raise many issues.

As an elected Heritage Foundation governor, I have had assurances at our meetings that every effort will be made to guard the interests of retailers - and their customers - displaced by the work. Importantly, too, the need for independent retailers to have a significant presence in the new developments is recognised; it will not be just chain stores. So Letchworth will be distinctive, not a clone of other town centres.

We have been assured of great attention to the appearance of the buildings so that they blend in. In the Arena area, one priority is to prevent the Town Hall - which there are no plans to demolish - being dwarfed, hence the flat roofs shown in the drawings, but my understanding is that these are not a definite.

People have questioned whether there has been adequate research. Who our shoppers are and what they want have been extensively researched. Specialist retail agents have assessed the scheme and the sorts of shops Letchworth would attract. This use of professional specialists will continue.

Broad consultation is under way. In addition to meetings with various interest groups, including town and district council representatives, and the invitation through the press for people to make their views known, an information pack to Letchworth homes will include a reply card for people to say what they think. The Foundation's town meeting in the spring will doubtless enable people to raise concerns face to face.

Despite the best efforts of Letchworth's many excellent retailers, it is clear that major surgery is needed to avoid inexorable decline. Other questions will arise as things progress, and I urge everybody to send their views - whether for or against - and ideas to the Foundation.

DAVID WALKER, Sollershott East, Letchworth Garden City


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