Square redevelopment has been a farce

Doesn’t it say much for our “smart modern town centre”, as Councillor Richard I G Davies recently described it, when the building of a car park is deemed to improve its appearance?

The redevelopment of Talisman Square North has been a farce since the remaining leaseholders, some of which wished to stay, were paid off and kicked out five or so years ago so the buildings could be demolished in the chase to secure more ‘High Street Names’. Most Kenilworth people knew this was an unobtainable pipe-dream that would never come to fruition.

The town centre rebuilding has been strewn with design errors and misconceptions, and what have we gained? Waitrose has caused the closure of an off licence, two grocers (although the balance has since been restored by one) and a supermarket. Smiths arrival caused the closure of an independent stationer in Station Road, Costa Coffee replaced Chatz, and Wilkinson’s is simply a ‘swap’ for Woolworth’s. We also of course lost a ‘high street name’ in Argos.

The absurdities of the one-way system, installed for the whims of a solitary retailer, have been shown this week with the closure of Bertie Road and the subsequent diversion - via Farmer Ward Road and Spring Lane!

The stub-end of Station Road that feeds onto Warwick Road appears now to be little more than a delivery back-entry with up to three vans at a time parked (illegally) to offload. In any case, can anyone explain why the pavement on one side is wide enough to have chairs, tables and a van parked full on the pavement, yet on the other side the walkway is so narrow you have to step into the road to pass an oncoming pushchair?

We once had a wide entrance to Talisman Square. Now we are stuck with the hideous and incongruous ‘carbuncle’ half-blocking the entrance; this and the extension of Boots has increased the length of the new entrance ‘alleyway’ which is now just a few feet wide thanks to the ‘cigarette lighter’ sign, a tree, bollards and the clutter from retailers. Just try to imagine the chaos of this area should the entire building site – and two thirds of the existing open space – ever be successfully turned over to crowd-pulling big stores.

I never have quite understood why just about everyone involved with this drawn-out development speaks of Kenilworth’s uniqueness whilst simultaneously trying to make it like every other town. How much better would the town centre look now if there never was a grandiose scheme for Talisman Square North, and it was simply refurbished, as was the rest.

Today’s building site could have a sideways, instead of forwards, extended Boots with the new grocer alongside, probably one or two of the paid-off tenants would remain, and we would still have the open space fronting Warwick Road. - Robin D Leach, Arthur Street, Kenilworth.