Shopping in Putney Town Centre 

It's up to us!


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The three speakers at the Putney Society's meeting last week, which sought the views of local residents on 'Shopping in Putney', helped to provoke a lively discussion and gave a useful framework for the questions people raised.

Jan Willoughby, the manager of Sainsburys in Werter Road, spoke first and explained the wide scope of her supermarket's retail operation. In particular, the thoughtful arrangements for the handling of surplus foodstuffs at the end of the working day, gave a clear image of the ethical side of retailing - something the average shopper just doesn't think about. Retailers and the community, an interesting issue.

Putney's town centre manager, Stephen Wallace, presented a wide-ranging review of the challenges faced by shopkeepers in Putney, especially the financial pressures. He explained why the costs of starting up a new retail business meant that the small, independent, operator finds it so difficult to open, except in secondary frontages. It was noted that many people in Putney and Roehampton live in £1M houses - but how much of their shopping do they do in our town centre? The alternative opportunities for shopping, elsewhere and online, are real and a serious challenge.

As a long-time local resident and businessman, Allan Fuller, was able to recall how the High Street has changed over the decades. Remember the '60s when it seemed to be lined with shoe shops? Today's generous supply of coffee shops, mobile phone shops and hairdressers must, curiously, represent what people in Putney want! Retailers only set up business when they think they are going to satisfy a demand. Our borough council has little or no control over these matters.

The discussion ranged widely over many issues. What can be done about the empty shop premises at 2, 4 and 6 Putney High Street - at the entrance to Putney? What about the constant heavy traffic - can it be diverted? More trees in the town centre, please, to soften its appearance. The public benches in the town centre are not properly maintained. The pedestrian access into The Exchange from Lacy Road - will it be closed?

John Horrocks, the Putney Society's Buildings Panel Convener, who chaired the meeting, commented afterwards that the main conclusion he reached after the meeting was that the success of shopping in Putney town centre will depend on all of us. "If we do our shopping locally, in Putney, the retail offer will be retained and could well be enhanced. We probably get the shops we deserve. It's up to us really"

John Horrocks
The Putney Society

November 30, 2011