Published: 14:00, 28 February 2021
| Updated: 12:21, 01 March 2021
Plans to open eight retail kiosks on a busy street look set to be approved - despite the project failing to gain a single supporter and being heavily criticised by police.
Canterbury City Council has recommended its planning committee green-light its own controversial Station Road West proposal at a virtual meeting on Tuesday.
But critics have blasted the scheme as “appalling” and stress the new businesses - likely to include baristas, florists and barbers - will be unwanted competition for struggling firms.
Kent Police also fears the kiosks, which are set to back onto the multi-storey car park for Canterbury West, will spark a rise in pickpocketing, nuisance climbing and graffiti.
The force also says the small gaps between the avenue of huts will attract yobs and become a place for people to urinate, while others are concerned about the narrowing of the pavement.
Yet despite the objections, which included critic Nicholas Blake labelling the bid one of the city’s worst-ever planning applications, the council is pressing ahead with its vision.
In recommending the scheme be approved, planning officer Jessica Brown downplays the anti-social behaviour concerns by stating how the busy area has an “appropriate level of surveillance” due to its close proximity to the station and shops.
She also says any impact on existing businesses should not be taken into account as that “is not a planning matter”.
The council is hoping to maximise the high commuter and visitor footfall between the railway station and St Dunstan’s Street as it turns the commuter thoroughfare of Station Road West into a commercial stretch.
Despite fears the huts would make the path too narrow, the council is confident a “sufficient” amount of pavement will be retained.
“The proposal would contribute to the vitality and viability of the city centre and would bring this side of Station Road West into an active and engaging streetscene,” the planning report states.
The timber-clad kiosks would have a design life of at least 30 years.
Council members will vote on the proposals on Tuesday.