Canterbury is the main retail centre in East Kent. The variety and quality of shops in the city draw in tens of thousands of visitors a week, boosting the economy and providing jobs in shops, cafés, pubs, restaurants, cinemas, public transport and parking. The Canterbury Society strongly supports this retail and leisure provision for the obvious economic benefit this brings.
Our main concern is to ensure that the ancillary products of the retail sector do not degrade the quality of the urban environment. We are concerned about the high numbers of cars coming into the city adding to congestion and air pollution and the detrimental effect of the homogenisation of the city centre. Also, while we welcome the employment and choice they offer, chain stores do drive out independent family owned businesses and can destroy the diversity of the High Street. Ugly signage is also something we strive to reduce.
To this end, the Canterbury Society is supporting the Council’s efforts to manage traffic flows by investing in out-of-city parking backed up by an improved public transport system, and improved opportunities for cycling and walking. We are also pressing the Council to use its control over the planning system to create satellite retail areas close to the city centre, such as Wincheap, which can cater for chain stores, allowing independent stores and boutiques to proliferate in the city centre. We are also engaged in an ongoing campaign to press the Council to enforce its own rules on protecting the appearance of listed buildings within the conservation area.