HERNE Bay has been named a shopping hotspot — making it onto a list of the UK’s 100 best retail locations outside London. The town is ranked number 31 on the Hot 100 list, compiled by property consultants CACI for Property Week magazine. It comes in four places above neighbouring Whitstable, which is ranked 35. Metrics used to compile the data included economic variables, growth prospects and the impact of future projects, along with the town’s demographics, leisure opportunities and projected population growth over the next decade.
Herne Bay scored 90 per cent in the “retail offer versus population demographic” category — meaning its shops and businesses are aligned well with what residents want and need. John Platt, principal consultant at CACI, praised the town centre for having a “local feel”, with a balanced mix of traditional Independent and larger national retailers on the high street. He said the town was also benefiting from more affluent residents moving in, attracted by the high quality of life by the sea, along with the ability to commute to London and surrounding towns. He said:
“For example, there is now an increased demand for more niche retailers and catering operators that appeal to these affluent former city dwellers. We have already seen a rise in independent boutiques, coffee shops and artisan bakeries across many of these high-ranking towns as they look to reposition themselves and serve the new demand.”
Chris West, Herne Bay’s business development manager, said the ranking was “great news” for the town, adding
“We are an alternative to the clone shopping centres in other towns, who have the same shops and the same thsplays. Here, we have niche, independent businesses like butchers, bakers and fishmongers. We’re very strong when it comes to independent businesses.”
Regeneration schemes, such as the planned Aldi supermarket in King’s Road, which is part of a £50milhon project to transform the town centre, also had favourable effect on the town.
Mr West added:
“Whitstable has been very successful as an independent town for the last five or six years, but it’s almost at capacity Herne Bay is benefiting from that.”
Colin McQueston, the director of property developers Coplan Estates, part of the team behind the town centre regeneration scheme, said the ranking was “very encouraging”. He said:
“Herne Bay is quite unique — it’s not a typical high street, and it’s got plenty of potentiaL I think we’ll see more and more people moving down here in the next ten to 15 years.”
He added that larger retailers and independent shops needed each other to trade successfully, saying:
“Getting a mix of shops is great for any town.”
Work will start on building the Aldi store early next year, and Mr McQuestion said the data CACI had complied would be used to help the team put together phase two of the scheme, which will see the William Street car park transformed into a new shopping square.
Herne Bay Gazette, November 19th 2014