I WAS very impressed by a BBC Radio 4 documentary I stumbled on by chance last week as I was driving home (I don’t live in Northwich).

Presenter Ruth Alexander returned to her home town in Northwich to present A Tale of Two Towns to analyse how one has failed whilst the other has succeeded beyond everyone’s wildest dreams.

The programme captured the two very different ways Northwich and Altrincham came up with plans to rectify falling trade on the high street.

I have shopped in both areas for many years and sadly seen shops and businesses close down in both towns.

Yet now there is now a big difference between these two market towns. Northwich is still a ghost town compared to Altrincham which is flourishing.

Despite ploughing £80m into Barons Quay, the programme reflected on how most of the shiny new development is still empty and shops in the town centre remain boarded up.

A town centre regeneration expert criticised developers for building giant steel and glass buildings which did not blend in with the Tudor-style architecture in the town centre and are out of scale with this quaint market town.

By contrast, businesses and residents in Altrincham came up with a unique idea to base their revival around their ancient market, which has been transformed into a vibrant hub, which is constantly buzzing with people. You can eat food from all over the world and buy fresh produce from food producers, vintage fashion, crafts and handcrafted items for the home.

Each weekend has a different theme with live entertainment and plenty to see and do.

You almost feel as though you are on the Continent as cafes and restaurants have sprung up all over the town where you can sit outside and chill with a glass of wine or coffee.

Neighbouring streets where shops struggled to compete with the Trafford Centre have seen innovative new businesses, like sewing workshops open and thrive.

The atmosphere in both towns couldn’t be more different.

We no longer visit Northwich because it feels so depressing. We used to love browsing round family run independent shops, where you could always buy something different.

We love going to Altrincham. It is uplifting and buzzing with life.

A town centre regeneration expert concluded that there is no single remedy to solve the problem of dying high streets.

Each area has to come up with their own unique approach but the key to survival is that it must capture the heart and soul of the town and listen to what residents want to see.

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