Something doesn’t quite add up in the high street debate when it comes to leisure and amusements facilities and their role on the key thoroughfares in Britain’s town centres.
Councillors, often ill-informed, tend not to like them; the nimby brigade is definitely no fan and the highly active anti-gambling community, small but exceedingly mouthy, seem to bully their way into the decision making process. In many cases, it leaves shuttered shops shuttered for much longer, foot- fall dying on the high street and businesses and their employees languishing.
Enlightenment, however, is on the horizon with the residents of Wakefield viewing the high street demise through a completely different lens – they have stated that entertainment and amusement are top priorities for revitalising the high street, according to a survey by the Wakefield Express.
Launched in January, the city centre study received responses from over 500 members of the local community, intended to form the foundations for a submission to the council.
“Thirty per cent said they would like the buildings to be used for leisure facilities,” reported the Express following the survey.
“Activities for families and young people were top of the list for many respondents with a bowling alley, ice rink, and ‘laser quest’ popular suggestions.”
The survey follows a 2018 review by former Wickes and Iceland CEO Bill Grimsey that stated city centres required a mixture of retail and leisure to survive, predicting the number of empty shops to reach 100,000 within the decade.
The UK high street has been a continued concern for many local councils, with 5,855 store closures in 2017, and 70,000 retail job losses in 2018.
However, a focus on bolstering the entertainment and leisure industry could well drive growth, with Wakefield residents agreeing more family-focused amusements are the way forward.
“The Market Hall could be a leisure venue with trampolines, a bowling alley, cinema, bars etc. A family venue,” said Express correspondent Debbie Fishman.
The review found 38 percent of those interviewed cited a “mixture of uses” as the future for the city centre’s high street offering, with many opposing the new upstairs cinema in the Ridings, preferring instead the space be dedicated to leisure facilities.