Margate and Dartford named as worst 'ghost towns'
Margate and Dartford have been named among Britain's worst
New figures released today show the Thanet town has a staggering
36.1% of shops lying empty while Dartford has seen 26.3% of its
outlets close down - the national average is just 14%.
There is some consolation as Margate no longer tops the list of
worst small-sized towns in the UK, losing last year's top spot to
Leigh Park in Hampshire. The figures from the Local Data Company
also show an improvement of 1.3% on the last set of figures.
Shopkeepers in the seaside town also suggest a corner has been
Anne-Marie Nixey who owns home-furnishings shop Qing in the Old
Town said: "Those shops that were going to go for whatever reason
have gone and now other things have replaced them. If you look at
the High Street in the last year, there's lots opening up.
"They may not be open now but they are being taken or going to
be taken soon so you're only really seeing what you can walk into,
whereas a lot of people around here know of people that are going
to be opening in the next few weeks or months."
Anne-Marie also says the new figures should be taken with a
pinch of salt:
"You can play with statistics all you like. It's interesting
that Margate becomes all of Westbrook, the High Street, the Old
Town, Cliftonville and everything else in between that you can
squeeze in when it's needed to be.
"I've been here three-and-a-half years and you can't get a space
in the Old Town now.
"People are bending over backwards to find retail units in the
area and people are now moving up into the High Street."
It's a view shared by the owner of Margate Gallery in
Lombard Street, Janet Williams: "The Old Town has sprung up from a
completely empty-shop zone to a now-thriving hub of cafes,
restaurants and beautiful little individual shops.
it's a leading light in terms of the shape of what the High Street
"We're really passionate about what we do, we sell beautiful
things, you can get nice food and nice coffee. It's a great area to
wander around and that's already beginning to spread up the High
"We should be looked at as a very positive model and people
should stop slating Margate on account of the empty shops. That was
then and now is beginning to look very different"
Whatever the future for Margate's High Street, Kent's Green
Party has called for shops lying dormant for over a year to be
turned into homes.
The appeal comes in response to fears that home ownership in the
South East will fall to as low as 64% within 10 years, as an
entire generation are effectively locked out of the housing
Spokesman Steve Dawe said: "A combination of factors is keeping
shops empty for long periods in towns throughout Kent and
"These include high commercial rents, which continue to rise,
declining household incomes and the growth of internet shopping as
consumers shop about for the best prices."
"Internet shopping may mean that some types of retail outlets
disappear altogether from our high streets. This already appears to
be happening with bookshops, electrical retailers and music
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