AFTER reading the recent letters about shops moving out of the city and shops being left empty I should like to offer my opinion.
In 21st century Britain most of us buy nearly all our requirements at the supermarket of which Wakefield has many, this is an unfortunate fact. Other items that cannot be obtained at the supermarkets are now often purchased online. Online purchasing will continue to grow at the expense of our local shops for many years to come.
It is likely the number of shops will continue to reduce as it has for the last 50 years, possibly at an increased rate. We therefore have to look to a new model, where town centres will be a mix of commerce, houses and flats, with shops becoming specialty and service related.
There will of course continue to be large retail centres at the heart of the city such as Trinity Walk and the Ridings but the smaller shops will find it increasingly difficult to match the multinational retailers.
In this scenario it is essential to maintain our towns and cities by building at many inner city houses and flats in the city centre as possible in order to keep them vibrant and enable many of the vacant shops to be used for servicing the requirement of these inner city inhabitants. This will also reduce the need for both public and private transport reducing demand for out of town shopping.
I understand Coun Jeffery’s concern that the vacant shops are privately owned and cannot easily be changed into residential housing, possibly remaining vacant for several years.
It is therefore essential that when suitable city centre land becomes available it is used as sensibly as possible.
I would therefore suggest that the large parcel of land that used to be Crown House is made available for housing for which Wakefield is in much need and the new replacement Archive building, if really required, is moved possibly out of town, given that the majority of people accessing its records will be doing so on-line.