Empty Co-op building key to Bletchley centre

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THERE are still no plans to fill the now empty former home of the Co-op in Bletchley.

In 2006, the store closed its doors for the final time, and been left for nearly five years without any signs of new ownership.

Bletchley and Fenny Stratford Council confirmed that there were currently no plans to do anything with the building and that there was nothing on the horizon.

However, Green Party councillor Tony Mabbott believes that filling the empty building is essential in creating a Bletchley community as it is part of the town’s history.

“It may act as a statement of intent to bring all of Bletchley together again,” he said. “I know there were initial problems with the ownership of the building - we weren’t sure whether the Co-op owned it or whether it was part of the council ownership.

“But we need to get everyone involved in a room together to discuss the future of the building, because I think it is keeping people away from investing in the town.

“The Co-op building has always been an essential part of the town. Looking through the old pictures and the archives, it was always there, and was an important place in the town, so it is a real shame that it has been left like this for such a long time.”

Cllr Mabbott thinks that filling the empty store could act as a catalyst in bringing more big business into Bletchley and could encourage others to begin regenerating the area.

He said: “It’s a bit like the broken window syndrome. If you leave it long enough, people stop taking pride in their own area. If that happens, it will be even harder to attract people to Bletchley.”

However, filling the building with a retailer may not be the only option - the facility could yet be used as a community space

Cllr Mabbott said: “If it is apparent that filling it is not commercially viable or an option, then we should look towards making it a community facility that everyone can make use of.

“Bletchley is a town that closes down at 5pm, and everyone goes home.

“If there was a place that people wanted to go, meet and do something together, it’d bring back that sense of community spirit that councillors and town developers always want to create.”