Future of shopping

PUBLISHED: 11:19 26 January 2006 | UPDATED: 09:30 06 May 2010

Letchworth shopping centre needs a critical mass of customers or shops will become empty and life will flow out of the town. Letchworth must look to its future and consequently the Heritage Foundation has proposed substantial changes designed to revitalis

Letchworth shopping centre needs a critical mass of customers or shops will become empty and life will flow out of the town.

Letchworth must look to its future and consequently the Heritage Foundation has proposed substantial changes designed to revitalise the central retail area. There is no doubt that these proposals address some of our current needs by allowing us to keep pace with similar developments planned for Stevenage and Hitchin.

However, Letchworth was founded, not simply to imitate its neighbours, but to have the imagination and the courage to plan further ahead for a better way of life. What does that mean today - we are writing to suggest that any future development should place its emphasis on sound environmental design, as well as strengthening the community. In the outlines for redevelopment that we have seen there is a substantial emphasis on access by car but little mention of bicycle or pedestrian access. Whilst we appreciate a need to make provision for cars, should we really cut down pavements to squeeze in just a few extra parking places, particularly as we try to approach a future with reduced reliance on oil? The alternative could be to have pavement cafes and safer pedestrian areas.

Further we have not seen any suggestion of an emphasis on energy efficient design in the new building, or indeed of using sustainable energy resources to help power them. These technologies are currently well within our capabilities and a state-of-the-art centre could create an additional attraction for shoppers and for modern retailers who promote eco-friendly, corporate policy. Of course, the idea of creating not only a better retail space but also a more sustainable future will undoubtedly seem like idealistic dreaming to some - exactly as the original vision of Letchworth must have seemed to many when it was first proposed.

G MOSS & C CHEFFINGS, Address withheld

* Mr D Walker's letter in last weeks Comet describing the town centre development plans as bold and imaginative seems to indicate a pre-commitment to it, because I am not at all impressed by his assurances.

Some years ago a lady with the same sort of position in the First Garden City and the same ideas concerning development was firmly rejected by the people of Letchworth because it would change the whole character and uniqueness of the town.

As for talk of broad consultation and meetings where people can have their say, only the committed zealots will get involved and it would not be all the people of the town making the decision.

NAME AND ADDRESS WITHHELD

* I welcome the development of Letchworth town centre - proposed - but I think we should always keep in mind the aims of Sir Ebenezer Howard and other visionaries.

They wanted the streets to be well illuminated by the available sunshine and light from east, south and west, and did not want massive high buildings which would block it.

One point they did not have to think about in 1903 was cars and traffic! I think that Letchworth town centre should be for pedestrians and cyclists only.

MR A J HOLLIS, Ordelmere, Letchworth Garden City

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