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Facelift will give centre new life

St George's Shopping Centre, Gravesend
St George's Shopping Centre, Gravesend

Changes are planned at the "battered" St George’s Centre.

Its general manager, Andrew Thomas-Knowles, launched the new year with replacement bunting flagging up the range of shops at the centre.

The move most likely to win customer approval, though, is his plan to reopen a long-closed passageway.

It links the rear walkway with the square beside Marks and Spencer.

"It was closed some years ago, but is still there, still intact and has the lights," he said.

"I don’t know why it was closed, but it will bring back to life that corner of the shopping centre."

Mr Thomas-Knowles came to Gravesend in June last year.

St George's Shopping Centre, Gravesend
St George's Shopping Centre, Gravesend

The planned facelift - which follows renewal of the children’s play area - includes several new shops that will be opening in the near future.

"It was quite amazing how many people were up in arms about me taking it away for seven days!" said the former Army warrant officer.

The improvements are being planned whether or not the redevelopment of the Heritage Quarter in Gravesend gets planning approval.

Those proposals include four more shops, and a fair bit of disruption to the church side of the shopping centre.

"My plan is to make the place a bit more friendly and welcoming," he said.

The centre has 36 stores and - currently - five empty units though he expects most to be occupied soon.

He welcomed the challenge offered by St George’s.

"The place is battered," he admitted. "It needs a bit of tender loving care, irrespective of whether the plans for the Heritage Quarter are approved."

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