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New South Quay Shed complex in Whitstable harbour attracts offers from more than 40 businesses


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Demand has outstripped supply as more than 40 firms fight it out to snap up one of 15 units at a new complex in Whitstable harbour.

Canterbury City Council has dozens of offers on the table to lease the self-contained spaces in the South Quay Shed.

How the South Quay Shed is looking now. Picture: Neil Baker
How the South Quay Shed is looking now. Picture: Neil Baker

The former eyesore has been transformed into an impressive mixed-use space for shops, eateries and cultural activities.

The rundown shed, which was previously used for storage, is now a complex laid out over two floors.

Leases for the South Quay Shed scheme were offered to businesses by the council - which operates the harbour - in autumn this year.

It is hoped all the units will be occupied by early spring next year, with businesses trading before Christmas 2022.

Cllr Neil Baker, lead councillor for the coast and chair of Whitstable Harbour Board, has told how initial expression of interest were “well-north of 100” and firm offers for the units “were in the 40s”.

Harbour Board chair Cllr Neil Baker said more than 40 business have put down firm offers for units in the South Quay Shed, Whitstable
Harbour Board chair Cllr Neil Baker said more than 40 business have put down firm offers for units in the South Quay Shed, Whitstable

He says the council is now in the process of shortlisting for the 15 units, adding that the huge level of interest means it can be more selective.

“We are not looking at having big national chains and want to be very much local,” he said. “There is a mixture of food and beverage, retailers and crafts.

“It’s about working out how it is going to fit together, but I think it will be good.

“It’s just making sure there isn’t lots of uses that are conflicting with each other and everything comes together.”

Cllr Baker says it is hoped deals will be struck this side of Christmas, but this will depend on how negotiations progress.

Preference will be given to local businesses, sole traders and those that will boost jobs locally, do not use single-use plastics, stick to sustainable business practices and demonstrate benefits to the local economy or harbour-related trades.

In January 2020, it was revealed council planners had to go back to the drawing board for their redesign of the South Quay Shed after fears were raised over potential fire risks.

Plans to include repurposed shipping containers in the two-storey scheme were ditched due to new regulations introduced following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, and concerns over the environmental impact.

The council announced it had redesigned the building,and put forward a fresh plan to use timber instead. Work on the redevelopment had been delayed due to the pandemic, but the project continued despite fears major schemes planned for Whitstable could be put on hold.

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