Sunday, 5 March 2017

Aldershot

Oh, dear what can the matter be – Aldershot!

There used to be a saying that ‘if you couldn’t get in London you could get it in Aldershot. At the time this was true but then Aldershot was home to the British Army. I was born in Aldershot and I can remember the heady days of a department store, M&S, Woolworths, three arcades, excellent restaurants, all the major utility companies and above all the Army. There are just a few reasons why I go to Aldershot these days. The health centre, the cinema & my lodge otherwise nothing else.

So, when I read in ‘Get Hampshire’ that Poundland is closing one must wonder what on earth has gone so horribly wrong. Clearly there are many reasons for this and the town has been in steady decline for many years but you hear people say ‘well if Poundland is closing down something must be wrong’ it just makes you wonder who will be next. What I find surprising is, with all this massive house building that is going on, why is the town centre falling even faster down the road of irrelevance? I don’t have an easy answer for this but it’s going to take a miracle to do something with the town.

But what does this mean for Farnborough? Well good news. The regeneration of the town is moving ahead at a pace. The new Farnborough Civic Quarter development has been handed over to a government body who have now started the process of getting the job done. I understand it is to be a mixed development of housing, business, a new community centre and a Farnborough Centre for Health but not on the scale of Aldershot’s.

One might ask why is this happening? Well I believe there several reasons why Farnborough is becoming in the ‘in place’. The redevelopment of the old RAE site has had an impact with an airport for business use, good rail & road networks to London, new housing, the airshow and by the looks of it a more permanent exhibition site now under construction, something that has been muted for years. 

However, there now looms a big question about the future of Rushmoor in its current form. Many years ago, when I was a Councillor on Rushmoor Borough Council, local government reorganisation took place. It was put forward that we should join up with Hart District, Ash Vale & Farnham. This would have created a Metropolitan Borough something Aldershot had always wanted since 1922. With Farnborough becoming the centre of Rushmoor & with all this development taking place boundaries between the various areas is rapidly disappearing if not already in some places. Rushmoor did expand but only on the fringes. As I said, does this mean that the great dream of a Metropolitan Borough of Rushmoor is coming closer to being a reality? I feel it does so watch this space. 

Martyn Marsh

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