7Bone – no sign of change?

We saw work in progress at 7Bone a few weeks ago.  At the time, we couldn’t work out what was happening.

Why remove – and then apparently replace – a nearly-new sign?  It puzzled us.

But, with hindsight, we suspect that sign used not to be illuminated, and that the work we’d spotted was the installation of lighting behind it.  Are we right?


The future of Camberley is clear….

We’ve now listened a couple of times to last week’s broadcast by the borough council on Facebook.  The council emphasised that it wants the town centre to ‘remain unique’.  The council is not going to compete with eg Bracknell, but instead is going to focus on attracting independent shops.

This could be a good strategy.  Bracknell has one of the lowest percentages of independent shops in the country.  And (according to Google, so it must be true…) numerically, independent shops are in a healthier state than chains.  Apparently this is partly because many coffee shops – a growth sector – are independent.

Camberley already has plenty of independents.  Hairdressers, nail bars, franchises, restaurants, tattoo parlours, fabric shops, phone accessories and plenty of others.  But we suspect that some of these have relatively low turnovers, and they can’t afford ‘high’ rents.  So a strategy of concentrating on independents could mean a lower income for the town.

Note, we’ve said “COULD mean a lower income”.  Other towns have a high proportion of independent shops, so how do they manage?  What can we learn from them?  But first, where are they?  That’s a problem.  Reportedly, Sparkhill has the highest proportion of independent shops.  But Sparkhill is a Birmingham inner city area with a large population of ethnic minorities;  it’s not a good model for Camberley.  Where else to look?

You don’t have to spend long on Google to discover that Frome in Somerset is well-know for ‘specialising’ in independent retailers.  (It was the subject of a radio programme perhaps a year ago when it was said that the town deliberately went down the ‘independent’ route to avoid becoming a commuter town for Bristol.)  So, no doubt our council has been on a fact-finding mission to Frome, or somewhere similar, before deciding to focus on independent shops.  Indeed, committing to a key strategy in the absence of any direct discussions to learn about its pros, cons and implications, might be seen as somewhat negligent.

(We haven’t been in Frome for a year or two.  But here’s a photo taken during our last – wet! – visit.)

We’ve just mentioned ‘cons’.  There are some, of course.  A couple of weeks ago the SomersetLive website contained the following item:

“When we reported on the closure of Shoe Zone, we were inundated with comments from Frome residents.

Some were sad to see it go, with one person saying: “Just hope that it’s replaced with something affordable and not a trendy independent shop that only some people can shop in.

It also prompted a debate about what should take the store’s place with suggestions including a Pizza Express, Clarks and a Wetherspoons.”

It would appear that affordability, Pizza Express et al were viewed more favourably than trendy independence.

The Mall lingers on!

We took these two photos some time ago.  The ‘M’ logo for The Mall is in the ‘before’ photo, but not the ‘after’ – the marks where the logo had been were being painted over when we pressed the shutter.

The somewhat surprising thing is that the black board saying ‘Welcome to the Mall’ hasn’t been removed (or, at least, it was present above every entrance when we last looked).  No doubt it’ll be gone before long.  You’ve probably seen that much of the signage inside the mall has been updated to show the new Square identity.

(Oh, embarrassment.  After writing this, we realised that the photos are of two different entrances!  But the story would still be the same if we’d not been so confused.)

What WAS this extending ‘lifter’ doing?

A couple of days ago, there was a hydraulic lifter partly blocking Park Street outside the Pembroke House care home.  It was there whilst it……

We have a problem.  We can’t complete that last sentence because we don’t actually know why the lifter was there.  We went and had a look a couple of times, and it had obviously moved along the road a bit, but why?  It’s gone now, but nothing seems to have changed.

If you know why it was there, do tell us!


New doors for old!

Some months ago we showed a photo of a security door that had been installed on the A30 service road.  We said that it somewhat reminded us of ‘Fort Apache – the Bronx’.  Our GUESS was that the building had been acquired by the borough council, and that the council that was responsible for the door – which was similar to others that had been installed in the council-owned car park.

Anyway, thank goodness, the unattractive steel door has now been replaced…

#TalkSurreyHeath session – today, 7:00pm

The borouch council is holding another on-line panel session today.  Its website gives all the details (apart from the time!) so here’s what it says:

The title of the event emphasises finance and economics.  But the text says the discussion could potentially cover a wide range of subjects, including the regeneration of the town centre.  So we’ve risked diverting the session somewhat by asking five regeneration questions.  They are:

– Will the council publish the detailed results of the recent consultation about plans for the High Street?  ie how many residents responded, how many retailers responded, and what views were expressed.

– In deciding how to revitalise The Square, did the council consider exploiting and emphasising the mall’s ‘Victorian arcade’ features – glass roof and decorative ‘ironwork’?  This would have differentiated it architecturally from the Bracknell development much more that the alterations in Grace Reynolds Walk will do.  Is the intention that Camberley should be a ‘copycat’ town, or somewhere that offers something unique to shoppers?  If the latter, what will the uniqueness be?

 – Did the council consider asking for public views before selecting the name The Square?

– Will upgrading The Square include creating night time east-west links between the High Street and Park Street as proposed in council planning documents?

– For how long is a building site allowed to obstruct the pavement of a town centre road with scaffolding – when little building work appears to be under way – before the council takes action?

(We lobbed in the last question because there’s little point trying to regenerate the town unless ALL the landlords and tenants join in.)

Our trains, your views

When South Western Railway took over the running of our local train service (it actually took over the whole South West Train franchise) it announced that it would consult about its proposed new timetable.  So, a week or so ago, it launched aconsultation on-line.  You’ll find the consultation page HERE  (Sorry, Facebook readers, you may have to go to the Eye’s WordPress blog for this link to work.)

To us, the most relevant part of the consultation is Table 150:

(To see the full proposed local timetable, click HERE)

There’s no fixed suite of questions to answer.  Instead, any comments to South Western Railway should be sent by e-mail to timetable.feedback@swrailway.com  There’s a deadline of a few days before Chistmas for responding.