Shopkeepers fear £60m regeneration
SHOPOWNERS are insisting that businesses and customers are against a £60m town centre regeneration plan despite claims a public consultation showed support for the scheme. Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation asked for the public s views on its prop
SHOPOWNERS are insisting that businesses and customers are against a £60m town centre regeneration plan despite claims a public consultation showed support for the scheme.
Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation asked for the public's views on its proposals for a major redevelopment of The Arena and The Wynd areas of the town.
At the Foundation's annual meeting last week, which attracted an audience of around 300, director general Stuart Kenny said it had received 438 replies, and that these showed "a favourable outcome".
But during a question and answer session, Richard Weston, owner of Photo Finish in Broadway, said that 438 was a poor rate of feedback and showed a lack of interest in the project.
Speaking to The Comet after the meeting, he said: "I put it to Stuart Kenny directly at the meeting that he hasn't proved a need.
"If he's only got 438 responses out of his 400,000 target audience then he hasn't proved a need. How does he justify that expenditure [for the consultation] for 438 results?
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"There's no demand for this. My customers don't want another Milton Keynes or Stevenage, they like Letchworth because it's different."
Terry Cox, who with his brother Mick owns Cox's in Arena Parade, said: "We have nearly 3,000 customers a week who come through our shop and nearly all of them are against it.
"I spoke to nearly every business that's affected by the development and they're all against it, not one business is for it.
"We've always agreed that the town needs renovating but we don't need to knock it down."
At the meeting Mr Kenny insisted that he "wasn't disappointed at all" with the number of replies, although he admitted he would have hoped for a higher response.
He said: "In one way it amazed me because I believe people should have the interests of the town centre at heart.
"We can only take the responses we got and analyse the responses. The responses showed a favourable outcome.