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High Street 2020: An Analysis for Morecambe

Parker, C and Ntounis, N and Millington, SD (2014) High Street 2020: An Analysis for Morecambe. [Report]

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Abstract

Overall, footfall in UK town centres is falling and Morecambe’s footfall is falling at nearly twice the average rate1. This indicates that the town centre is ‘at risk’ – and that it is likely to be less resilient to shocks such as increased edge-of-town competition. Morecambe’s footfall profile most closely matches that of a ‘holiday town’ meaning that leisure and distinctive retail need to be an important part of the overall offer. Nevertheless, the identity of Morecambe is confused – there seems to be little overall vision and leadership to enable the town to adapt to change in a proactive, positive way to create a more positive and differentiated identity. In our opinion, based on the High Street 2020 research we have undertaken, the proposed Bay Shopping Park will have a negative impact on the existing centre as it is too far away to generate linked trips – and there are no plans to integrate it in a way that could complement the existing offer. Retailers will be attracted to the Bay Park’s larger units, 1 Over a 30 month period ending May 2014 better road access and convenient car-parking – and this will further reduce the comparison offer in the existing town centre. In this respect, the Bay Shopping Park will impact in a similar manner to out-of-town development – which, as our model demonstrates, diverts up to 30% of footfall. As a result of the newly built Morrison’s supermarket and other developments, there is no doubt some of this diversion has already taken place. However, the spiral of decline that will come with more vacant retail units and less footfall after the opening of the Bay Shopping Park will eventually impact upon Morecambe’s ability to sustain its traditional centre. To what extent is the Council willing to sacrifice the traditional centre to the new shopping park development? Our research also demonstrates the proposed development could also be detrimental to overall rateable value. Nevertheless, whilst we predict the Bay Shopping Park would have a detrimental impact, we are aware that the existing centre is also not serving the resident catchment or visitors/tourists effectively. Newspaper reports refer to the Arndale Centre as ‘a disgrace’ and our own High Street UK 2020 project points out the negative impact that out-of-date and out-of-scale in-town development has on vitality and viability. In order to strengthen the existing town centre, all stakeholders have to work together – under a shared vision for the future – and New River Retail must make the necessary investment, to improve the retail offer (both comparison and convenience) through their Arndale Centre. Our research demonstrates the role a channel anchor, such as a shopping centre, can take in coordinating and supporting place change. The town also needs to improve the overall customer experience and create an appropriate and differentiated identity, with the traditional town centre at the heart of these developments.

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