Parking outside shops degrades environment


YOUR correspondent (News Guardian, letters, July 14) seems determined to perpetuate the myth that those who don’t want our public spaces filled with parked cars are somehow stuck in the past and need to wake up from a ‘nostalgic dream’.

The reality is somewhat different.

The heyday of the motorisation of our townscapes was the 1960s, when planners believed that our town centres should be redesigned around cars which represented the ‘way of the future’.

Some of the worst and most brutalist bits of architecture date from this period, most of which have thankfully been bulldozed over the last 20 years.

Back in the Seventies people started to realise that pedestrianisation offered the key to successful high street retail areas.

Newcastle’s Northumberland Street was one of the first in Europe and at the time very controversial.

But by the 1990s Newcastle’s retailers had noticed that turnover in the shops in the pedestrianised half of Northumberland Street was much higher than the top half, cue the pedestrianisation of the rest of the street, Monument and much of Grainger Town.

In North Tyneside too what works best for retailers has changed over time.

If you look at Royal Quays you’ll see how cars are moved out to the fringes and the central space around the shops is made as inviting as possible to those on foot.

Perhaps they’ve just got it wrong and the site would do better with cars parked outside the shops, perhaps there’s all to much ‘promenading’ going on at Royal Quays?

People’s desire to park outside the shop door is very real, but the reason it is not a good idea is that it degrades the environment for everyone on foot (regardless of how they got there).

Tynemouth’s Front Street is going to face some stiff competition when the new station supermarket opens.

The supermarket will ruthlessly go after the most profitable bits of business in the area, be it convenience food, children’s clothes or greetings cards.

The environment around the station is already attractive and Front Street will have to work very hard to compete.

Unless Front Street looks after its best customers, those who live nearby, it will lose out and we’ll see more and more premises converted to bars and pubs, which is the last thing any locals want.

We are with you and want to support our local shops, but perhaps people should take a trip to town and look at the Grey Street Garden that NE1 businesses have built.

This is the sort of thing that attracts high spending trade, not blocking your shop window with a row of parked cars.