Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What's on offer in Anglia Square?

During my A Level Business Studies lessons one of the few things that remains with me to this day is that balanced business zones work best; you don't find shopping centres with just clothes shops in or out-of-town centres with just computer outlets. Today I spend some time talking to shoppers and traders who work in and around the Anglia Square / Magdalen Street area and i was surprised by the balance on offer. I was able to go to the cinema, have cafe coffee, do my food shopping, buy household goods and browse small independent and sometimes quirky traders. It was a good experience; and on the day that the unemployment figures rose yet again, and showed an upturn here in the City, I also spoke to traders who were advertising for more staff.

So given this, why is the perception of this area so bad? I did warn, years ago, that Chapelfield would unbalance the City yet further towards the south. Unlike other parties I don't oppose Chapelfield and in many ways it forced the rebranding of the Anglia Square area, but it also means that you can get pretty much everything you want without coming above ground. The strenght of the Norwich economy lies in the footfall of people exploring our wonderful City. How many tourist pounds are spent to the north? Not many now I bet. The Lanes have done well to reinvent themselves but Anglia Square doesn't seem to have matched that.

This goes against percieved wisdom but Anglia Square isn't awful - it's got a lot of good shops and a lot of life about it. The shoppers were happy and the traders, mostly, bouyant. Maybe that message isn't getting through but something does need to be done.

I'm not saying Anglia Square will ever rival Chapelfield or the Mall, but it does have a role to play in the overall services offered by the City. Maybe we all ought to be spending a little more time there and more effort in speaking up for it?

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