Thursday, January 17, 2008

Shops and towns and things...

I was wandering around the Kent County Council web site this morning when I noticed the Town Centre Audit for Westwood cross was published yesterday - just a simple summary of floor space and vacant premises. Quite an interesting comparison with the other (real) town centres though:

Town CentreDate PublishedTotal Space% VacantTotal Units% Vacant
Westwood Cross16.01.0834,3858.7%395.1%

Broadstairs seems to be more or less unaffected, but the huge percentage of both units and square footage vacant in Ramsgate and Margate should make someone in business planning stop and think about local amenities, quality of life, urban environments and all the rest. Westwood Cross may be a roaring success, but it still has to work where we actually live... And surely there's a limit to the number of estate agents that can take the vacant premises. Surely...

To be fair I haven't found or compared older audits, so maybe it's always been like that, and it's very unfair of me to presume it's the Westwood effect. But I doubt it.

And if a new extension to Westwood Cross replaces the demolished ShoeFayre building, it doesn't look like easing the pressure any time soon. Anyone know if that's just going be another 'street' of multiple stores? or is it all for Primark (if recent rumours are to be believed, and God knows it sounds likely enough)?


Anonymous said...

There has been a decrease in Margate Town Centre. Tellingly the HSBC bailed out of there for westwood. The problem is that the new centre is on deaths door and yet we are expected to have faith in the regeneration of the old town centre... I personally refuse to hold my breath.

The consumer-centric shopping complex (that I hate more with each visit, I think it's terrible there and hate that my bank makes me go there if I want to talk to anyone) is a heavy thing for our town centres to carry. With a 20% to 40% deflation of property prices expected in the next five years we can expect the towns to bloom well or die utterly.

If the later happens I will move away as it will be the sign that we are doomed.

Michael Child said...

We went to Broadstairs yesterday and the shopkeepers that I know were saying that things are pretty bad there too, I think that although their summer sales held up well Christmas and the January sales were badly affected by W.C.