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The Old Market Development.


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Debenhams is teetering on the brink and the economic forecast for this large retail group looks exceedingly precarious. If it goes, and it just might, then the Old Market Development that drained Council funds and destroyed High Town, that so many of us desperately argued and advised against building will rapidly go into decline.

If it goes it’s not just the jobs that go with it. The loss of the big retail name Debenhams will have a hugely negative impact upon those businesses that still trade there. The footfall will be reduced resulting in other dependent traders considering their trading location and whether or not they can withstand the economic hit.

What we all saw at Maylord Orchards, we will see again. Perhaps High Town could benefit. Perhaps not. One thing is for certain. If the Debenhams space does become available then the Council have got to give some serious consideration of how they can mend the past Tory Council mistake and make the Old Market relevant and viable for the future. They will not be able to replace Debenhams with another similar retailer. Nobody of that commercial size will ever take the risk and trade in Hereford. So, as far as I can see, the only way the Council can deal with this is to avoid a quick fix solution.

By that I mean filling the retail space with anyone just to collect some short term revenue. Charity Shops and low spend end commercial traders ain’t going to do it. That won’t stave off the possible decline of The Old Market. The only area that I can think of that provides large spending from peoples disposable income is the Leisure Industry. That’s about the only thing that they can do.

Quite simply, because of a mistake made many years ago when the then Council allowed us and theselves to be asset stripped by sharp suits that took all our money, our current Council will have to think very carefully about how they proceed. Through no fault of their own making they’ve been forced to do something about the dead Maylord Orchards which I personally fully understand. If Debenhams does go, and I worry it just might, then they’ll have to apply themselves and their strategic planning to the Old Market development and how it’s going to survive and prosper in an age of huge economic uncertainty.



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There are 600 total parking spaces with 31 disabled and 22 parent & toddler spaces With the ground floor entrance car park adding nothing to the development I always felt that it should have been landscaped into a social area ie small open air events, water features, grassed areas, walkways to Merton Meadow and Blackfriars Rose Gardens and Coningsby Hospital Museum. How many cars can be parked in the multi-storey?

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If Debenhams goes, it's not the Council's problem - its the owners, British Land. They'll put in there whoever they want to, providing they can pay the rent, and there ain't a lot the Council can do. I suspect BL will make it into smaller units, no one the size of Debenhams is going in there - these names are dinosaurs, rapidly approaching extinction - look at the flagship John Lewis Grand Central in Birmingham New Street - permanently closed now after only 5 years and £35m to build.

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