We’ve had enough’
ENOUGH is enough. That is the message from Old Town traders about the number of pubs and restaurants in the High Street. They are also appealing to Stevenage Borough Council for help to attract more retailers and shoppers. Councillors held a special are
ENOUGH is enough. That is the message from Old Town traders about the number of pubs and restaurants in the High Street.
They are also appealing to Stevenage Borough Council for help to attract more retailers and shoppers.
Councillors held a special area committee meeting at the Cromwell Hotel last Thursday to discuss the future of the Old Town and to get comments on their Old Town area action plan - which will form the basis of future planning.
The council asked traders and residents what role pubs and restaurants should play in the High Street, what type of new homes should be built nearby and asked for comments about the sites it has identified for housing.
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Saffron Ground in Ditchmore Lane, Bank House in Primett Road, builders yard in Letchmore Road, the southern car park in Primett Road and Antelope House in Gates Way have all been identified for possible sites for housing.
The council also wants to know whether Orchard Road should be made into a conservation area, what can be done about parking in the High Street and how transport in the town could be encouraged.
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Speaking after the meeting Umesh Sachania from The Choc Box said: "We need more shops not flats or restaurants.
"The council wants to fill in all the open spaces - they said they want to put between 30 to 50 homes per hectare - which is a lot of homes on an area the size of a football pitch."
A director of a company, who didn't want to be named, said: "If they build more homes where will all the cars go? There is already a real problem with parking in the High Street.
"The council doesn't want to spend anything on the Old Town - we are being squeezed out. The rent and rates are so high and new retail businesses find it hard to set up and survive the difficult first six months. "There has been a steady decline in customers. When shops close they reopen as eateries and pubs. The problem with those places is we end up with sick outside our premises and litter from takeaways.
"If these places are given licences they should be made to clear up after themselves."
Stuart Deamer, manager of Deamers, said: "Parking is the biggest problem in the high street especially when some shops and offices allow their staff to park in the bays in the High Street all day.
"We need restricted two hour parking to encourage shoppers."
Although not everyone shared that view John Duff, owner of Bike Stop, said: "While we have the car parks at the back parking is not too much of a problem. If they build houses on there obviously it will be."
Ian Mofrad, of The Branded Suit Company, said: "I don't want to see any more pubs, restaurants or hairdressers. We need ladies clothes shops and shoe shops. Customers want to be given a choice."
He also called for a Saturday market to be introduced along Church Lane to give people more reasons to visit the Old Town.
Executive councillor for economic regeneration John Gardner said: "To say that we do not give retailers in this area enough help is untrue and I am sorry that some of them feel this way. The Old Town is extremely important to Stevenage and we consider it to be one of our 'jewels'. In the recent past we have given money for new lighting and environmental improvements in the Old Town.
"The purpose of the current consultation about the Old Town is to give all people, including businesses, the chance to say how they would like to see the High Street developed.