Question over town’s regeneration plan

ONLY one in 10 people are in favour of major regeneration which is on the cards for a town centre. A survey by retailers in Letchworth GC showed 89 per cent of people questioned are against the £60m plans for extensive demolition and rebuilding. Traders c

ONLY one in 10 people are in favour of major regeneration which is on the cards for a town centre.

A survey by retailers in Letchworth GC showed 89 per cent of people questioned are against the £60m plans for extensive demolition and rebuilding.

Traders compiled the questionnaire after becoming dissatisfied with the consultation carried out by Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation.

The survey was launched in June with a full page advert and tear-off slip in The Comet, and forms were also available in shops in the town.

In total 1,186 shoppers and residents completed the forms.

In the survey, the Heritage Foundation's consultation, which received 438 responses, came under fire, with 92 per cent saying they did not believe this was representative enough for the Foundation to make plans for the town.

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And 89 per cent said they believe the Foundation will go ahead with its plans regardless of public opinion.

This is the second survey set up by traders in the town.

An earlier questionnaire put together by 14 shops found that only one per cent of those questioned approved of plans to knock down Arena Parade.

One of the traders responsible for this latest survey, Mick Cox from Cox's in Arena Parade, said of the results: "We knew what they were going to be before we started the survey.

"It was just reiterating what we already knew, that most people are against the redevelopment.

"People would like to see some improvements but I think they would like to see some ideas of how we can work the whole thing so we get the best result for the town and the people who live, work and visit Letchworth."

Asked why he thought the retailers' survey attracted over double the response that the Heritage Foundation's consultation did, Mr Cox said: "I think it shows that people didn't bother contacting the Heritage Foundation because they thought their views would go unnoticed anyway.

"I just think we got a better response because people feel they can talk to us more."

Mr Cox said he hoped now the Heritage Foundation will "go back to the drawing board" and work out a way forward.

He added: "The end result has got to be what's best for the town and I don't feel that at the moment people feel that's happening."

Stuart Kenny, director general of the Heritage Foundation, said: "The Foundation's views on this, and another retailers' survey have been well documented over the last few weeks and we therefore have nothing more to add.

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