I see Mary has written a report about rejuvenating the High Street I'm getting some of her ideas like making it easier for people to set up stalls, advocating measures to stop landlords and banks keeping properties empty and making the environment safe and attractive. But when I heard her talking on the radio she used the examples of town centre gyms and creches. Hmmm! I'm not so sure that these features are what would reel me in but each to their own. However, I've produced my own wish list based what I like here in Devon and further afield.
- Lovely stalls selling a vast range of stuff. Locally grown veg, a good fish van, worldwide delicacies, street food, second hand goods, crafts..... I'm thinking of those wonderful packed markets that I visit in Brittany and the panier market in Tavistock that I've newly discovered.
- A range of retail units including high street names, independents with both new and secondhand goods. Surely something could be done with financial incentives to ensure that towns attract a mix of traders.
- Art installations - preferably those that change frequently. Like the brilliant pigs (and lions) that have, in the past been displayed around the streets of Bath, that became a draw themselves encouraging visitors to the city.
- Places of worship and contemplation.
- Imaginative uses of greenery and flowers which might include kitsch municipal planting, sensory gardens, green spaces to sit and relax, hidden oases of calm.....
- Street entertainment and regular events during both day and evening hours.
- Wonderful comprehensive libraries, art and community centres and museums providing community events and courses, free internet etc, etc. Around Devon, the Flavel Centre in Dartmouth and the Watermark in Ivybridge are good examples.
- A mixture of places to eat and drink that appeal to all tastes and budgets. That includes decent old style 'caffs'. Jackson's behind the fishmongers of the same name in Newton Abbot is a brilliant example.
- A decent post office, advice and support centres, local police stations, GPs surgeries and other primary care providers. Who was the numpty who decided that all the mental health teams in Newton Abbot should be based on an industrial estate in the middle of nowhere?
- Water features which incorporate features in which children can paddle and play. And why not put playgrounds in the midst of pedestrianised areas?
- Living accommodation (preferably with balconies) above shops so that urban spaces don't empty after dark.
- Town trails, cycling routes and self guided walking tours.
- Day care centres, schools and residential homes right in the thick of things so that all the community have access to these spaces.
Does anywhere come near my idyll? I'd be interested to know!