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What's it like living and working on London Road in Dover, dubbed Kent's 'takeaway alley’?

With 12 food outlets along a 350-yard stretch, it’s no surprise this street has been dubbed Kent’s “takeaway alley”.

But what’s it like to live and work here? KentOnline reporter Sam Lennon went to find out...

Trios of takeaways like this help light up the otherwise darkened London Road
Trios of takeaways like this help light up the otherwise darkened London Road

As we enter autumn the evenings are getting shorter, but pockets of London Road in Dover are lit up amid the gloom.

The many food outlets lining the street act like beacons - attracting customers hungry for a takeaway.

The 350-yard stretch between Beaconsfield Road and Cherry Tree Avenue is home to four pizza shops, four Chinese takeaways, one tandoori restaurant, one fish and chip shop, a bakery, and a kebab shop.

What’s more, there are plans in with Dover District Council (DDC) for a 13th food outlet - this time a cafe bar.

Along one part of the road, there are three takeaways next to each other - London Kebab House, Tops Pizza and Tony’s Fish Bar.

Alex Delfost of London Kebab House in Dover
Alex Delfost of London Kebab House in Dover

Some say the competition is not an issue.

Alex Delfost, who works at London Kebab House, told KentOnline: “We are doing good. There are a lot of takeaways here but we are not affected.

“We need five staff during weekdays and eight on Fridays and Saturdays for our customers.”

But Mr Hakan, owner of Pizza Plus – which is also in a row of three takeaways, with another pizza parlour next door – is of a different view.

“There are too many food outlets in London Road and we lose customers because of the one-way traffic systems,” he said.

“Drivers who can’t stop directly outside our business go further up the road and stop at another takeaway and use that instead.”

The high concentration of takeaways on a short stretch of London Road
The high concentration of takeaways on a short stretch of London Road

The new cafe bar is planned for the site of the now-closed and large Clara-Beau Interiors store.

It was Lisa Hazell, who ran the home decor shop, who called the area “takeaway alley” to stress that new food outlets would have stiff competition.

The Lydd resident was also put off from keeping her business in London Road because of parking problems and traffic congestion.

Mrs Hazell concluded that Dover was “not a place to have a business”.

But Issy Conlan, assistant manager at the Tea Cafe restaurant, which has been trading for four-and-a-half years further down London Road, told KentOnline: “We are able to cope as the food outlets are very different.

Issy Conlan, who works at Tea Cafe in London Road
Issy Conlan, who works at Tea Cafe in London Road

“This is a safe area although parking is a bit of a nightmare.

“But you can use the side streets for cars – so it is tricky, but not impossible. “

London Road is in a densely populated area with locals not having to walk far to buy goods and services, as this is almost a self-contained community.

It has a wide range of businesses including a large food shop, hairdressers, barber, betting shop, charity shop, post office, computer repairs business, florist, carpet shop, photography shop, chemist and repairs garage.

Most of these are independent businesses and almost no premises are vacant.

The busy London Road in Dover
The busy London Road in Dover

It is busy with traffic and people during the day, when most shops are open. The road is particularly filled with cars and buses in the run-up to rush hour.

Naku Bogavarapu, the owner of the S. Mart provisions shop and off-licence, says the one-way traffic system can cause issues.

Local shopkeeper Nagu Bogavarapu
Local shopkeeper Nagu Bogavarapu

“If someone in a car misses the shop and tries to come back again they have to go round in a circle,” he said.

“They don’t want to so they go to another place and we miss some business

“Also the road is narrow so if there is an accident it is completely gridlocked.”

London Road shopkeeper Jim Clarke
London Road shopkeeper Jim Clarke

Jim Clarke, who runs the SMOK’ air Store vaping business, says the area is “pretty good on the whole” but parking can be tricky.

“Cars race up through London Road and the amount of noise that generates is becoming a problem,” he said.

“There is very little crime that I’ve seen, though I know that the area is covered with CCTV. There may be crime on a Friday and Saturday night but very little during the day.”

He said the advantages of the area were cheap rents and zero rateable values for local businesses.

It is the lower accommodation prices that encouraged Chris and Susie Gosin to make London Road their home, having moved from Sandwich.

Clara-Beau Interiors, which may be replaced by a café bar
Clara-Beau Interiors, which may be replaced by a café bar

“We needed more space anyway but Sandwich was so much more expensive,” Mrs Gosin told KentOnline.

“But everyone here is really nice and we have no issues with the area.

“Also traffic and parking problems can happen anywhere in Kent.”

The gridlock is at its worst when heavy amounts of port-bound vehicles spill over into Dover town's arterial routes.

Although London Road is clear at these times because it takes traffic away from the port, drivers can't get to it because other roads nearby are snarled up.

Another of the trios of takeaways in London Road, Dover
Another of the trios of takeaways in London Road, Dover

Businesses in this area felt the full force of the chaos in April 2022.

O'Brien Butchers in London Road then told of a 40% loss in trade. Its delivery driver took an hour and a half to get to the shop from just over a mile away in Whitfield.

The full length of London Road runs from Dover High Street to Crabble Hill.

It dates from around 1680 and had hardly any housing until land was bought in the area in 1810.

The highway was originally called Buckland Street from the Beaconsfield Road junction northwards. The area was gradually built up and this route was the turnpike road to Canterbury and London with the toll gate on Crabble Hill.

The landmark Kings Hall in London Road
The landmark Kings Hall in London Road

The aptly-named London Road was literally one of only two roads, along with the A20, that took drivers straight to the capital from Dover.

London Road’s key buildings include Dover Working Men’s Club, the Joint Cadet Centre for army and air cadets and the Grade II-listed Kings Hall.

This grand-looking early 18th century building was first a Methodist chapel and a music hall and now, out of use, was put on the market this year.

The half-mile of London Road from Bridge Street to Cherry Tree Avenue has only one pub, The Eagle. The landmark Cherry Tree, at the other end, is now long gone.

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