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Kent towns are among UK worst for vacant shops

Vacant properties in Cliftonville
Vacant properties in Cliftonville

Two Kent towns are among the worst in England for the number of vacant shops.

Margate is beaten only by Altrincham in Greater Manchester for medium-sized towns with empty stores.

It was knocked off the top slot, but saw a slight percentage increase to 27.5 per cent of all stores in the town vacant in the first six months of this year.

Dartford came in at number 13, with just over one in five stores unoccupied - a rise of 10 per cent on the six-month period from July to December 2009.

But what is even more shocking is the number of towns in the top 18 in the region for vacancies.

Kent towns take the top six slots out of 18 in the South East region, with two thirds of all towns featuring in that list coming from the county.

The report, by The Local Data Company, shows the continuing impact of the downturn on town centres across the South East.

It also sees Dartford and Gravesend feature highly in the vacancies list for London. Dartford came in third, behind Brixton and Wandsworth, and Gravesend was eighth out of 20.

A Local Data Company spokesman said the Kent statistics bucked the trend.

He added: "Already there is a clear north/south divide apparent in shop vacancies.

"This survey shows the increase in vacancy rates is slowing down."

It revealed the number of empty shops continues to increase in most centres, but the rate of increase is slowing.

Margate had seen the highest vacancy rate among all large and medium-sized shopping centres.

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