CHRONICLE readers are being offered the chance to help shape the new-look town centre.

The long-awaited redevelopment programme is expected to get underway next year and while it is not as ambitious as the original plans, council chiefs are still confident the end result will be a town centre to be proud of.

The council had hoped to secure more than £150 million from investors for a total rebuild of the heart of the town centre.

But when the financial backing failed to materialise, the council decided to press ahead with its own more modest plans, costing around £40 million.

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Now Chronicle readers are being asked for their views on what they would like to see incorporated into the designs - and how they would like to see the town centre change.

The proposals already include:

* Demolition of the former central offices and adjacent shops.* Redesign and redevelopment of the Metropolitan Centre, indoor market and semi-open market.* Proposed purchase of the former Training and Enterprise building and adjacent property with development into a leisure and retail centre.* Creation of a new public square to accommodate a new open market and a space for town centre events.

Chronicle editor Andrew Harrod said: "Everyone has their own views about how the town centre could be improved and this is the ideal opportunity for Chronicle readers to make their opinions count."

Council leader Sir Steve Houghton said the town centre was was at the start of an exciting journey.

He added: "This scheme will provide certainty to the traders and businesses and deliver the improvements that people have been waiting for."

We are making it easy for readers to let the council know what YOU want and think by taking part in the survey below. Filling it in will take only a couple of minutes and your opinions will be used to help draft the plans for the biggest redevelopment of the town centre in 40 years.


So what do you think the town centre needs? A high-end restaurant? More fast food outlets? Fewer fast food outlets? A bigger cinema? More pubs? More parking?

The survey is your chance to have your say. You can send your replies to the Freepost address below or you can fill in the survey online at