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The sad loss of Woolworths - Alicia Pivaro

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An Urban Design Scholar attempts to bring naughty thinking and messiness to the dull, prosaic process of change

DECEMBER 08 - The death of Woolworths is the worst thing to happen to high streets/town centres in a bloody long time. Unfortunately for Woolies there won’t be a public outcry or government bailout. Shame on you Gordon - if Woolies has been a terribly-managed financial institution you would have had your cheque book out quicker than you can say subprime. But that ain’t going to happen because Woolies is an institution– but one that only matters to busy mums across the country and probably old people. Because you could get anything at Woolies – age 3 underpants, party plates and birthday gifts, Nintento ds games and light bulbs, pick and mix, teatowels – and it was all on your high street – not in a huge shed off the north circular or on the internet somewhere.

Whenever I have visited a new town in the UK I would go to the local Woolies - it is a touchstone of the familiar and everyday in a strange place. So as we continue the conversations about how to create a robust masterplan for Albert Dock Basin and really begin to think of what a community needs in terms of retail, amenities, cultural and social infrastructure – I can’t help but feel that a Woolies would be a very good start.

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