Sunday, 25 October 2009

TIME TO MAKE SOME NOISE

It's been brought to my attention that Thanet District Council are offering local people the opportunity to have their say on the future of Thanet. This is a logical progression from TDC's crystal ball-gazing antics last month, where they outlined a vision of what they expect Thanet to be like in 2030, whereas this is perhaps something more tangible. Their hope is that through engaging with the public – hopefully taking into consideration our views – they'll be able to come up with a Core Strategy of preferred options, forming the basis of a Local Development Framework which will possibly culminate in transforming our local area into – dare I say it – a better place.

TDC have re-scaled their vision slightly from their initial predictions, bringing it forward a few years to 2026, but their hopes and aspirations largely remain the same. Something which has caused a considerable stir in the local press is their intention to establish Westwood Cross as the isle's “principal town centre.” I've spoken on this subject before, and though I'm aware that traffic is absolutely choc-a-bloc around Westwood, I still mildly support this idea. Obviously, I think more needs to be done to resolve the issue of commuters to and from Westwood Cross, maybe widening some of the roads, for instance, ensuring that it doesn't continue to be the jam-packed and queue-riddled nightmare it currently is.

However, at the same time, I do feel Margate High Street should not be abandoned completely. It does need more shops, but perhaps if TDC are channelling all their energies into transforming Westwood Cross into a “principal town centre” (i.e. if Westwood is their primary focus on establishing shops, retail outlets and/or businesses), then maybe they should consider setting in place measures which make it easier for local businesses to set up shop in Margate High Street. I'm not 100% up on my facts, so I don't know exactly how much money it is to rent out shops, but if it's currently too expensive then lowering shop rental costs would be a good idea. It'd be a great way to lend support to local and independent businesses, would it not?

Currently, I think all TDC is doing with Margate High Street is converting some of the empty shops into flats. In a way, that's not particularly good news, especially since they've also announced their intention to create 7,500 new homes around Westwood. What about shops in Margate High Street? Has that entered into TDC's vision? What they'd ideally need, in my opinion, is a plan to make Margate appealing to tourists once again; after all, if they hope the Dreamland Heritage Park and the Turner Contemporary will bring in extra visitors, then what's the use of converting empty shops into flats and leaving the rest of Margate High Street to rot?

Then again, I could waffle on for hours on this subject, as I'm sure you could too, which is why I thought I'd tell you that this opportunity to speak up and tell the Council how you feel about their plans is a rare chance to make some noise. So, feel free to visit Thanet Council's official website, register your details, fill out the necessary forms, and make a difference. I'd like to feel as though all your views will be taken into account, but I'm not naïve, I'm aware that you can please some of the people some of the time, but you can't please all the people all of the time. Inevitably, some opinions will be probably be left on the scrapheap. But nonetheless, it's still a great chance to get your voice heard. What do you want for Thanet's future? Now's your chance to tell them. Go on, do it. What have you got to lose?

1 comment:

  1. Yeah reducing business rates would be great, but the standard line from TDC is that business rates are set by central government and cannot be changed.
    TDC therefore need to challenge this otherwise it will remain economically unviable to open a shop of any variety for a small bespoke trader in Margate High Street, Higher or Lower ends...

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