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Medway Council to buy Pentagon Shopping Centre

By Caitlin Webb, local democracy reporter

Medway Council is going to buy a shopping centre for £45 million.

This purchase would see taxpayers become stakeholders in Chatham's Pentagon Centre.

Councillors approved plans to take over the property in the town centre at the full council meeting last night.

The Pentagon, Chatham High Street entrance
The Pentagon, Chatham High Street entrance

Council leader Cllr Alan Jarrett (Con) said: "Our town centres are changing. We need to diversify. We need to invest.

"We need our town centres to find their niche for the Towns and we need to help them do that.

"Rochester has its special recognition and it is very successful. We can make Chatham successful in its own way.

"It is up to us to create these places. If we build up Chatham centre, people and businesses will come."

Cabinet member for business management, Cllr Rupert Turpin (Con) echoed these sentiments, adding buying the property would give the council more freedom to regenerate the town.

"We need our town centres to find their niche for the Towns and we need to help them do that..." Cllr Alan Jarrett

He said: "What we are doing here is taking control.

"We had the freehold, now we are getting full control. It finally gives us the imagination to do what we want to do with Chatham town centre."

He added the town centre is filled with "concrete buildings that were in vogue in the 1970s but which were clearly a mistake".

"I think this will give us a great opportunity to have a hollistic approach.

"It may seem like the finances are not good but we are not doing it for that reason.

Teresa Murray
Teresa Murray

"We are doing it for the regeneration option that it gives us."

While both sides of the council are in agreement about the purchase, the Labour group suggested three amendments at the full council meeting last night (February 21) but one item was held in private due to commercial sensitivity.

The opposition proposed the council got two further independent market valuations to ensure "the council achieves the best possible value for money".

Cllr Teresa Murray said these proposals give "sensible caution" to "make sure we get the very best advice".

She said: "We understand the need of businesses. We understand how hard they have had to struggle and how bold they have had to be; how creative they have had to be.

"We want to minimise the risk of that boldness and creativity being a casualty of something new".

However these amendments were turned down by the Conservative group as they claim this would slow down the process.

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