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‘Out-of-town centre has me worried about city’s future’

We hear a lot of fine words from politicians about the Portas Review and reviving our town centres, but actions speak louder than words.

York council’s decision last year to sanction the extension of the edge-of-town Monks Cross Shopping Park has really got me worried about the future of the city.

York desperately needs help to attract people and inward investment into its centre. Traffic in general, and parking in particular, is a real deterrent to shoppers coming into the heart of the city.

The free parking at the new development, which should come on stream in the next couple of years, will be a huge attraction.

Not long ago some of us on the local Chamber of Trade were hopeful we could attract a John Lewis Home store into the city centre, but if it does come it will go to Monks Cross, which is a couple of miles away. I fear other anchor retailers could relocate from the centre to the out-of-town site.

Our own business, which has been in Low Petergate for 40 years, will be all right, but I fear for the effect on smaller independents on the peripheral city centre streets. We need central York to remain a viable modern retail attraction and not become just a medieval theme park.

  • Ashley Smart, Partner at Robert Smart Menswear in York and member of the Fashion Association of Britain (FAB)

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