Monday, August 10, 2020
Home comment Letter: Time for new lease of life for Pudsey town centre

Letter: Time for new lease of life for Pudsey town centre

As a former Pudsey resident sadly now exiled to another part of West Leeds, I’ve been reading with interest for some time the Dispatch‘s coverage of the issues facing Pudsey town centre.

It’s great to see initiatives like the Pudsey pound and the monthly farmers’ market, which are undoubtedly positive moves, but I think we need to be need to be more radical.

Visiting the town on a shopping trip recently, it’s clear that despite the marvellous ‘planting’ efforts made by volunteers from Pudsey in Bloom, the town is in need of major investment other town centres like Morley and Rothwell have had over the years.

Pudsey Town Centre. Photo: Google
  • The public realm desperately needs improving. Take a look at the pavements – some of them are a mess, particularly around the card shop and Boots area on Church Lane which are a hotch-potch of tarmac and paving. Armley Town Street, which has many social problems Pudsey doesn’t, received major lottery money for new pavements with slabs depicting the area’s history (like the Armley hippo!). It got new roadside barriers and new heritage shopfronts were brought in. Pudsey needs something like this.
  • We need a plan! Pudsey needs a coherent strategy for change and a town centre manager or voluntary group to lead this change and attract investment/business. What’s the future of town centres in general? Sure, people’s shopping habits have changed (online and supermarkets rule) so how do we get a town centre with a proper mix of leisure, retail? What other things can we have to engage people? What’s the vision for town centres in 2030? With a bit of vision, Pudsey can lead the way.
  • Put some effort into the market. Unemployment is about to soar, why not encourage people to set up their own businesses in the market? Offer cut-price pitches or something? Maybe put the market into community ownership, a bit like Bramley Baths?
  • The Town Hall needs to be part of that strategy. Let’s face it, I doubt the Town Hall will be here in its current form in five years. It’ll be flats or something. It’s not realistic to see Leeds City Council keeping that building going given it’s not well used and they have no money. What could it be used for? Anyone with out of the box ideas? Community ownership? Let’s have a proper community conversation about this.
  • I’d look at forming a town council to give us more of a voice. Look at Morley, Otley, Aireborough, Horsforth etc – there’s only Pudsey that doesn’t have one. I know going back to pre-1974 could be seen as viewing things through rose-tinted glasses, but it would be a way of encouraging community activity. (Although I do worry it might become another Labour-Conservative party political boxing match which Pudsey seems to specialise in).
  • Pudsey needs backing with proper marketing. Even if it’s just something on social media.

I know Pudsey’s not Ilkley and nor do I want it to be. But it should have a great future. I’m too old to be organising this sort of thing, but perhaps getting the people of Pudsey more involved in some sort of group or campaign?

Let’s get the town centre and its market back to where it was with a bit of bottom up vision and passion.

  • B. O’Reilly (Mrs)

3 COMMENTS

  1. I wholeheartedly agree with each and every point made by Mrs O’Reilly…..I think it would be amazing to have more control, improve our patchwork pavements, increase the number of market stalls and put our wonderful Town Hall to good public use…Pudsey has been neglected for far too long , however our new councillors are making a valiant effort and I am sure being Pudsey folk themselves given support and a little time things will improve and Pudsey will prosper and shine once again. We all need to support our councillors and work together.

  2. Sorry to have to say this but……… I stated at the time the new bus station was built it has changed Pudsey for ever in a negative way. It’s in eyesore in a town that disctibes itself as ‘ Old Market”. Doesn’t blend in,is out of character, has a reduculas amount of traffic lights and the whole area has lost its friendly appeal.

  3. When it comes to the pavements, it’s not as easy as you think. Not all the outside area is owned by the council. For those shops with overhanging roofs in front of them, it is the retail landlord that owns the land up to the level of the edge of the roof. Just as you would with your own property the landlord wants to demarcate the edge of their property. In order to resurface the whole area in the same style, there would have to be complex agreements between the various landowners, including agreement on style and on who would be responsible for ongoing maintenance.
    Before austerity we had a town centre manager and various plans were put in place. But then the cuts came and so the plans didn’t happen.
    As for the comment about the bus station, yes it’s design is not great but who wants to go back to the traffic jams that used to occur with bus stops on the main road, no thanks!

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