Future uses for the BHS store

The borough council bought Ashwood House four years ago.  It has now published a ‘questionnaire’ on Facebook about the future use of the ground floor:

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“Ashwood House on Princess Way – What would you like to see in the former BHS unit?

“As part of the regeneration of Camberley, which has already seen the refurbishment of The Square Camberley, construction of a new leisure centre and High Street improvements works, SHBC is exploring options for the future of the former BHS unit in Princess Way, Camberley as part of the town’s exciting improvements.

“Your answers to the following questions will help us understand your interests and needs as users of the town centre, and will help us identify our priorities moving forward.

“Access the survey on this link. The closing date for the survey is 11 November 2019.

“Many thanks!”

https://surreyheath.formstack.com/forms/bhs_survey

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As far as we know, the survey has only been publicised on the internet.  Older people may not see it, which is a shame.  And it’s a bit puzzling.  One suggested use for the empty shop space is “It would also support training initiatives in hospitality.”  What does that mean?  Also, part of the survey asks people to “rank” various uses;  but as far as we can tell, it’s possible to put them all as top priority, or bottom priority.  This isn’t ‘ranking’, as we understand it.  What’s more, we reckon it’s possible to complete the survey more than once, which can’t be desirable.

To be clear, we’re all in favour of consultations and improved communication between the council and residents.  However, we’re a bit wary of a survey which doesn’t ask residents whether they, eg, agree to an increase in council tax or a reduction in services to offset a ‘rent subsidy’ for tenants in the newly-available space.  If residents aren’t willing, some desirable but ‘low-profit’ uses will have to be ruled out.  Everyone is in favour of lower income tax and more spending on the NHS, but we’re unlikely to have both!

 

6 thoughts on “Future uses for the BHS store

  1. I agree with your assessment of this survey. I would also add that the colour scheme and text size would not pass an equality audit – for some people with visual impairment it would be hard to read.
    It is deceptively hard to do a good survey and keep it simple – someone in the Communications team needs to be trained. A poor survey not only reflects badly on the council, it can also lead to half-baked results that in turn leads to ill-informed decisions.

    • Graham, I agree with everything that you have written. It would have been much better if we had just been asked the direct question of what we would like to see included in the development, or equally important, what we would not like to see included.

      • Garbage in, garage out. Interestingly, comments on Facebook are incompatible. Some people want more independent shops (but nail bars, vape shops and hairdressers tend to be independents, but they’re NOT wanted.) But people also want a John Lewis, B&M, Aldi and other national brands. Asking people doesn’t always work – the result can be a Ford Edsel.

    • Exactly so. The survey doesn’t really allow respondents to propose things that a council OUGHT to provide – toilet and changing facilities for elderly/disabled people, shopmobility, and so on. (And, personally, I think councils should steer clear of things that the market can provide. Entrepreneurs wouldn’t take four years to start to decide what to do with an empty space.)

  2. How does this correlate with the rumours of Lidl and Boots taking the area.? It suggests Library; is the current one going to move? Please not more eateries, there are enough on and near Park Street. The text on green is barely legible and there was no possibility of leaving a suggestion blank

    • I think a better description, Fiona, would be ‘speculation’ rather than ‘rumours’. The Eye never speculates, of course, but we know that the local Lidl is moving ‘somewhere’, and we know that Boots will have to leave its current premises (the building is going to be demolished!). So it’s just a case of guessing what’s going to happen. Like all guesses, it could well be wrong…

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