Retailers consider future after Gravesend Heritage Quarter decision
PUBLISHED: 12:16 30 September 2010
Independent business owners reacted in horror to the decision to block the multi-million pound redevelopment of the Heritage Quarter
The proposal would have seen 400 new flats, more than 10,000 square metres of retail space created, a 42 bedroom hotel, up to 500 metres squared of office space and around 1,700 metres squared for restaurants and cafe usage created.
Nicky Blanchard, centre manager at St Georges Shopping Centre, which is owned by Edinburgh House, is furious the project was refused.
She said: “Since the decision I have been inundated with calls from my tenants and other retailers who are genuinely concerned about their livelihoods.
“We have been working so hard to fill the vacancies in the centre in the last year and I can assure you it has been an enormous uphill struggle but I’m pleased to say the units have filed but this is only due to the fact that they all believed the development would take place and therefore prosperity would come to the town. I can’t imagine what’s going to happen now.”
Chris Parry, who owns Chris Parry Jewellers in the St George Centre, added: “I am gobsmacked. Most of this town is tired and dated. When you walk around it is not a town that has enough going on to attract the wealth that surrounds Gravesend.”
He pointed out that many of the villages contained a lot of affluence but they shop in surrounding centres such as Rochester, Whitstable and Bluewater.
“There is a ring of centres within 30 minutes drive and Gravesend doesn’t have enough to compete. We were given the chance to have millions of pounds of improvements and turned it down. It is frankly unbelievable,” he added.
Jake and Margaret Shepherd have run MSDC Graphic Design in the High Street for nine years and are considering leaving the town.
Mr Shepherd said: “When we arrived the regeneration plans were just coming through. Now its gone we are considering moving because you don’t want to live and work in a place that has no future.”
Edinburgh House, which has already spent more than £4 million on producing its proposal, has six months to appeal but no decision has been made yet.