Approval for yuppie flats when what was wanted was two- three bedroom houses has turned the centre of Aldershot into a yuppie ghetto.
The town centre consists of empty and boarded up shops. Were it not for the Nepalese ethnic food shops, there would be little left in Aldershot.
Aldershot town centre was killed off by having the heart of the town centre gutted for a shopping centre, that in the process destroyed many small businesses. The shopping centre has never been able to let all of its retail units and has gone into liquidation more than once. An extension to the grotty shopping centre is all but empty with only a handful of the retail units occupied. An edge-of-town Tesco superstore added to the pain.
During the day, disaffected youths are hanging around intimidating people on the street. At night fights and other problems as the local scum get pissed out of their brains in the many large bars that now dominate the town centre.
The latest from the dumb local councillors and their officials is to push for a shopping centre next to the edge-of-town Tesco. Everyone bar those pushing, can see that this would kill off what little is left in Aldershot town centre.
Even before the credit crunch began to bite, retail cum leisure cum yuppie flats was seen as a flawed business model.
In the last couple of weeks we have seen two major retailers, MFI and Woolworths, collapse. Other retailers are in panic mode, slashing their prices to maintain cash flow. Prices are being cut by 20%, 50% and in some cases by 75%. Last week Debenhams was open until 10pm at night with everything 20%, this was then extended to the weekend, and is now to be repeated this weekend.
That proposed for Aldershot collapsed when market for yuppie flats collapsed, the local councillors are still pushing that it should go ahead.
Maybe they should look to nearby Camberley. A brand new shopping centre that has only opened within the last few weeks, has been unable to attract new business. All that has happened is the businesses have relocated within the town, destroying the main square.
Nor do they seem to learn from their own mistakes. Nearby Farnborough has been trashed by St Modwen the UK's Leading Degeneration Specialist.
Rumour has it that small retailers in the grotty shopping centre are to be given their marching orders to make way for a large food retailer. Some would question why, when the large store currently occupied by Woolworths is about to become vacant. And when there is a huge amount of empty retail space in the extension to the shopping centre.
Councillors discussed this behind closed doors and if reports are true, backed the small retailers being kicked out.
If true, this shows an appalling degree of ignorance by the councillors of how local economies work. It also shows contempt for local retailers.
Worse still, the council agreed to waive ground rent for two years and any legal costs incurred by the developer London and Cambridge who won the shopping centre.
No such concessions are ever given to small retailers who are being driven out of business.
The only way Aldershot is to recover from the damage that has been inflected on it by the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor is through local retailers recycling money within the local economy.
Shopping centres, High Street chains, simply drains money out of the local economy.
Leader of the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor Peter Moyle accused Mike Roberts of talking down Aldershot. Telling the truth is not talking down Aldershot. All a bit rich coming from Moyle who having got into bed with big developers has single-handedly done more than anyone else to destroy both Aldershot and Farnborough.
Melanie Roberts, Council commits to Westgate plan, get Hampshire, 8 December 2008
Jack Sommers, Traders fear new budget store, Aldershot News, 12 December 2008