November 25th 2009
It has been a long and frustrating time in coming but at last serious proposals for the re-development of the centre of Herne Bay are out in the open. We need a good mix of high-quality retail, leisure facilities and residential accommodation in the heart of the community to keep the town alive night and day; and I believe that these plans warrant and deserve the backing of the town.
We either see the continuation of the drift towards out-of-town shopping that has blighted other town centre retail outlets or we give support to an imaginative and creative plan that will breathe life into a seaside town that, if we are honest, has for historical reasons never really enjoyed the benefits of a "town centre". The creation of such a focal point will not only prove to be a magnet in itself but will help to revitalise business for those outlets that are, particularly at present, having a difficult time in the High Street and in Mortimer Street.
The proposed developer, Denne construction, have a good track record (they are, by the way, one of the Kent companies that have blazed a trail in the creation of construction trade apprenticeships) and if Canterbury City Council gives this project the go-ahead then I think that we shall live to witness the realisation of a dream (see 1980s editions of the Gazette!) that some of us have adhered to for a long time.
The present Council's ambitions for the town have, following wide public consultation, been impeded by a government moving of goal posts and consequent delays in the approval and implementation of a cohesive local plan. We are, I think, now getting back on track and if we can dovetail the development of the Market and William Street Car Park sites with the regeneration of the pier and other improvements planned for the waterfront then in relatively short order, and notwithstanding a dire national economic situation, The Bay is going to be a very exciting place to be.