City centre survey campaign: We want empty shops filling and more entertainment for our city

More entertainment and filling derelict shop units is what’s needed to transform our city, Express readers said.

Friday, 22nd February 2019, 2:55 pm
Updated Friday, 22nd February 2019, 4:02 pm
And the results of the survey suggest readers in Wakefield are thinking the same thing.

As part of our city centre survey we asked you what you would like to see done with vacant lots – such as BHS on Kirkgate and the former Toys R Us on the Cathedral Retail Park – and what one thing would you change.

A third of people who responded to the survey said they would like to see unused shops replaced with more retail.

Thirty per cent said they would like the buildings to be used for leisure facilities, such as a bowling alley or ice rink.

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READ: Wakefield city centre traders have say on the future of our marketsOnly four per cent said they want to see empty lots replaced with housing and 38 per cent said a mixture of uses is what Wakefield needs.

The most recent major review into Britain’s high streets, by former Wickes and Iceland boss Bill Grimsey, said in order for city centres to survive they need a mixture of retail leisure.

And the results of the survey suggest readers in Wakefield are thinking the same thing.

Activities for families and young people were top of the list for many respondents with a bowling alley, ice rink, bigger concert venue and “laser quest” popular suggestions.

Many readers thought that Xscape at Glass Houghton was a good model and would like to see something similar in Wakefield.

With plans in the pipeline for cinemas both upstairs in the Ridings and at the former Market Hall building on Union Street many readers felt three was more than necessary for Wakefield.

But others felt that turning that floor of the Ridings into a leisure area could be the perfect place to introduce a leisure area to the city centre.

The cinema at the shopping centre is due to be built this year and the centre said further developments were expected in 2019. Filling empty shops was high on the list of priorities for readers and many thought smartening up some shopfronts would do a lot of good for people’s perception of the city. The return of a market was another popular suggestion with readers with many readers with both outdoor and indoor varieties mooted. The old BHS building was seen as being a good possibility to house a new market.

Many people felt that the new indoor market in Barnsley opened at the end of last year was a good model.

But others thought said it was too late to bring a market back and believed it was too late for Wakefield to reinvent itself in that way.

We asked Express readers what they would like to see in the city centre. Here’s just a few of the responses we received.

Amanda Beaumont said: “We need more one-off shops, more cheap parking, cheaper rents, cleaner areas, and more greenery.

Christine Wareing said: “Make the Bullring more appealing with flowerbeds and greenery. Bring back Queen Victoria.”

Ann Bainbridge said: “Clean up the city”

Carolin Heptinstall said: “Something for kids like a pool or ping pong. A recent outdoor, old style market was great, they should have done it up rather than knocking it down.”

Mrs B McManus said: “Save our buildings and clean our town. If it looks nice people will want to come.”

C Aepinall said: “Replace the ‘fountain’ in the Bullring with a bandstand for musical entertainment.”

Debbie Fishman said: “The Market Hall could be a leisure venue with trampolines, a bowling alley, cinema, bars etc. A family venue.” T and S Wrigglesworth said: “A good open and indoor market.”

The Express launched its city centre survey last month to find out what readers think the city needs.

We received more than 500 responses and we will use what you told us to direct how we report on the city.

We will also put your suggestions to the people in power and the results will form part of Wakefield Council’s high street summit, which will be held next month.

The first set of results of the survey were published last week alongside the news that the former council office on Kirkgate, Chantry House, would be demolished.

The building has been derelict since 2006 and many readers wrote to us to tell us they thought it should be knocked down.

Work to replace it with houses will begin this year.