LETTER: supermarket's alone won't revitalise town centres

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The Independent Online
WHILE it is tempting to welcome supermarkets' renewed interest and investment in the high street - so badly damaged by out-of-town shopping - we should think carefully about the form this will take before being seduced by proposals.

Retailers will inevitably look for sites similar to those sought for Drive Thru McDonald's - high visibility, convenient road access and parking at the door.When one thinks about the location of petrol stations (to which the retailers wish to attach themselves) one can see the pattern which will emerge - sites on the fringes of established shopping streets and on the less congested links between them. In short, locations which will compete with the high street rather than as part of it.

If we are serious about revitalising urban areas and promoting local facilities which people can walk to, then we must move beyond a simplistic division between in town and out of town. Improving the quality of high streets demands a holistic approach which is concerned with harnessing all the available resources and co-ordinating the roles of the public and private sectors. The major food retailers could play an important part but if this is to happen it is vital that the public interest is put before commercial interest and before the convenience to potential customers.

Dr Patrick Clarke

London SE26

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