Steve Dawe has done his 5th annual Tonbridge Town Centre survey for Tonbridge and Malling Green Party. He comments:
“Tonbridge town centre is still not a people-friendly space. Another year without a pedestrianised town centre in Tonbridge(1) and another year in which empty shops have increased. There are 20 empty units in Tonbridge compared to 17 last year (2). This situation still suggests that the Council and leaseholders should be looking at encouraging more short lets and lowering commercial rents to increase occupancy. The Council needs to spend more time thinking about how it deals with VIPs – that means the Very Important Pedestrians who use the businesses and services in our town centre, and how the numbers of them can be increased. And the ‘broken skeleton’ of cycle lanes in the town centre just encourages car journeys: the result of the Council blocking a new cycling strategy for Tonbridge since 2006(3).
“In almost every category of business, the number of enterprises is the same in 2012 as it was in 2011. Most changes which have occurred can be seen as symptomatic of continuing recession and declining incomes. These include: an additional ‘cash’ shop; another charity shop; the loss of two clothes shops; the addition of 2 units in the letting and estate agents category reflecting an expansion of private rented accommodation in the UK, as some people exit from home ownership and many others find that social housing and a home of their own are both out of reach. There has also been some contraction in Tonbridge’s large hair dressing sector, and in Jewellers, signalling a decline in luxury spending.
“Good news is detectable: the continuing success of our monthly Farmers’ Market; the retention of some very good restaurants; a fascinating new pet fish shop; and the continuation of many existing businesses.”
FURTHER INFORMATION: Steve Dawe on 01732 355185 or mobile 07747 036192. Contact address as above. Promoted by H.Dawe and published by Kent Green Party, both at 27, Audley Avenue, Tonbridge, Kent TN9 1XF. FULL REPORT: available shortly on the West Kent Green Party website at www.westkent.greenparty.org.uk or by request from firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Over 85% of those surveyed in Tonbridge High Street by Tonbridge and Malling Green Party supported pedestrianisation at weekends, in a series of surveys in the past 18 months; a survey by the Courier, 29th July 2011, indicated 70% public support for full pedestrianisation of Tonbridge High Street. There are large and successful pedestrianised areas throughout the central areas of other towns in Kent.
2. The area of survey has been changed slightly this year to include Avebury Avenue.
3. Information supplied by Kent County Council, suggesting that the Joint Transportation Board is remains politically antagonistic to cycling. Apparently there is a chance that a revised Cycling Strategy might reach the Joint Transportation Board in September. However, since this is also where the pedestrianisation of Tonbridge is being blocked, Tonbridge and Malling Green Party is not optimistic about the outcome.