Visited the Rheged Centre during the recent school holiday. it must be about 10 years since I was last there. I can't agree with some of the negative comments about it having gone down hill as it was exactly as I remembered it. Even the specialist paper shop was sill there. I had read some of the reviews before I visited but did not experience poor staff attitudes, dirty or poorly maintained public areas or high price food. The food was above average price but was also above average quality. Perhaps we have all been seduced by supermarkets providing mass produced food like chilckens at £4.00 each into thinking that cheap food is a fundamental right, but the success of 'best of' type ranges shows that people are willing to pay more if the quality is also right.
I think the main problem is that it is hard to know what Rheged is - is it an exhibition space, is it an out of town shopping area, is it a cinema, is it a showcase for specialist food outlets? It seems to be able to do some of these things well, but I'm not sure the location or the size make it possible to do it all. The only places that I know succeed at doing this have size on their side such as The Trafford Centre Complex.
I'm no expert in this area and I don't have answers for these issues but I do think Rheged is an experiment worth preserving as I haven't come across anything like it anywhere else in the UK and there are a lot of good things there for visitors and locals alike.
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