A shopping park at Monks Cross in the City of York has caused controversy as high street commercial retail properties fear that people will avoid the town centre in favour of free parking and big retail brands.
The City of York Council has been accused by The York Chamber of Trade of ‘playing fast and loose’, as they unveiled the possible plans of a Marks & Spencer and John Lewis launching at the shopping centre, which many local commercial property retailers in the City of York are disgusted with.
The Chamber of Trade, along with local high street businesses such as, Barnitts, Bettys and Browns (to name just a few) sent a letter to James Alexander, the council leader to oppose the shopping park scheme. The letter stated, “York’s city centre has already lost many of its local shoppers, and if these proposals go ahead, it is likely to lose a significant proportion of regional shoppers. This means the city centre is becoming detached from its residents and could be vulnerable to a trend towards a sort of ‘tinseltown’ destination.”
“The car-parking apartheid, discriminating against, rather than welcoming, people from outside the city is set to continue. Unless some assured and formalised support is proposed by the council for the city centre and its retailers and/or these proposals (at Monks Cross) are dropped, we are simply heading for a planning confrontation which is likely to be drawn-out and involve a public inquiry at the very least. These proposals are playing fast and loose with the future of the city of York and its residents,” The Chamber of Trade added.
Councillor Alexander expressed in his defence, “My priority has been, and will always be, our city’s economy. I want to see strong and sustainable growth across York and more new businesses setting up, while enabling existing businesses to flourish. York remains one of the strongest growing economies in the region and I commissioned the Reinvigorate York initiative to ensure this continues to be the case.”
“Our planned support for the city centre is robust and will improve and enhance the quality of the city’s public spaces and access to and from the city centre. This will provide a fitting backdrop for York’s businesses to operate. I am also actively working with council officers to determine where we could pilot car-parking schemes to help keep visitors and shoppers in the city centre, which have been requested by retailers,” Councillor Alexander added.
But if the plans are to go ahead, could we see more empty commercial properties in the city centre of York? Many shoppers will choose to visit commercial retailer properties that are close to one and another and that offer free parking, rather than having to feed a pay and display machine or multi story car parks, which can cost a fortune for a full days shopping. So it does raise the query as to whether or not York’s high street could compete with the questioned new shopping park.