The term ‘outlet village’ is an abuse of language – in the English language the name ‘village’ means a group of houses, usually inhabited by ‘villagers’.
The term ‘designer outlet village’ is an abstract concept, used to describe what is essentially a shopping precinct.
If positioned on the edge of a town it will usually have a large car parking area, often much larger in size and area than the shopping precinct itself.
Try to imagine such an outlet on the edge of a not unattractive market town, however a town that is bedevilled by traffic problems, which have existed for a very long period, has very poor parking facilities and a chronic road network complicated by low bridges and light controlled single vehicle bottlenecks.
The people pushing the designer outlet village concept, Buckminster, inform us that they expect people to travel in from up to 90 minutes away to visit both ‘the village’ and the local town , as a ‘destination’. 3.5million according to Buckminster’s own figures.
Let’s just look at that for a moment (leave out two days of year for Christmas and New Year and let’s do the maths) – 3,500,000 divided by 363 days = 675,000 visitors per week. That’s 96,418 per day.
Buckminster also claims that 10 per cent will visit the town of Grantham – that’s 9,641 people into Grantham each day. Really?
When they have made their long 90-minute journey, arrived at the ‘village’ only to be confronted with long queues to enter the place, made their all important purchases, then it’s time to visit the historic market town of Grantham?
And what will they find if they make it into Grantham? Well, not very much really. A town that spends most of its day gridlocked, often by the weight of its own self generated traffic. Nowhere to park. No shops of any great distinction. That’s about it really.
They may be fortunate and actually make it all the way in, providing they don’t mind queueing on South Parade for a few hours. They should be able to spend all of two minutes trying to visualise what the Angel & Royal looked like in Dickens’ time, without the backdrop of a town bus running 20 minutes late trying to get through the traffic.
The King’s School should be good for another two minutes – trying to imagine the young Issac Newton at his studies all those years before he became the genius he went on to be, then a quick try to the ‘Tipsy Vicar’ which was formerly the church of St Wulfram.
That’s the tour of Grantham over and back to their car to find it ticketed by the county’s finest, and now the long and painfully slow journey home.
Grantham as a tourist destination? I don’t think so.
The A52 relief road will become a service road for the ‘village’ and will be like Sankt Augustin and be gridlocked for most of the day, reducing its effectiveness as a bypass (it’s already single carriageway in parts). This development, I believe, will be the final straw for Grantham.