17 December, 2021

High Streets Task Force boosts Margate’s transformation plans with expert support

Plans to transform Margate received a welcome boost when an expert from the Government’s High Streets Task Force delivered a workshop for senior council officers, local business owners and other stakeholders and leaders in the town on Friday 15 October 2021, with a follow-up scheduled for the new year.

Following the visit, the High Streets Task Force has submitted a report of its findings and recommendations to help inform plans for regeneration. It is intended to support the local authority and community to address the issues that are blocking change in the town. 

In its report, the High Streets Task Force acknowledged Margate’s many strengths, including the cultural offer of the town centre, the planned upgrading of connectivity and the scaling up of creative industry and jobs. 

 Recommendations include:

  • Arrange to receive an expert from the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) to liaise with Thanet District Council and Kent Highways. The expert will review the present network and advise on how to overcome the challenges facing the town and feedback from the visit. This is timely as the Council and Margate Town Deal Board are developing their business case for the Active Movement and Connections project within the Margate Town Deal.

Other recommendations for consideration:

  • Bring the various town centre groups together to form a united Town Centre Partnership which works collaboratively with the local authority, so that communication is improved.

  • Increase the number of events to encourage more people into the town centre.

  • Improve local trader’s access to an interactive website to encourage them to advertise their wares and services online and, where necessary, trade online.

The visit and expert report are part of a package of support that Margate will continue to receive after it was selected by the Government in April as one of 70 places to work directly with the High Streets Task Force.

The recommendations come at a time when the Council has opportunities to implement or trial some of the suggestions through various funds such as the Margate Town Deal and the Welcome Back Fund

Graham Galpin, an appointed expert of the High Streets Task Force, led a three-hour workshop.  During the day, he learnt about plans to transform the town, in particular the Margate Town Deal. He met with senior representatives from the local authority, Cllr Reece Pugh, leading officers from Thanet District Council and Kent County Council, and local business owners, to explain and explore local issues and ways of tackling them.

Speaking about the visit and the report’s findings, Graham Galpin said: 

“We believe Margate can benefit from expert advice on potential ways and means for  improving the pedestrian flow and enhancing personal safety. This should involve planners to advise on the development of potential route maps for pedestrians and motorists.  

“Removing the barriers to moving around and between both the old and new town, and  giving better access to Turner Contemporary, is an opportunity that Margate can benefit  from.”

Cllr Reece Pugh, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Economic Development at Thanet District Council said:

“It was a real coup to have someone like Graham Galpin share his insights, experiences and recommendations in the context of what is happening to high streets across the country. I would like to thank everyone who took the time to share the challenges faced in the reopening of the high streets post-lockdowns and where we can focus our efforts to help and have the most impact.

“I want all of Thanet’s town centres to be vibrant and thriving. This report, in addition to other regeneration work such as the Margate Town Deal and the Levelling Up Fund, will enhance our plans so they are best placed to serve the community now and in the future. In the run up to Christmas, I would encourage everyone to go out and enjoy the shops and support our wonderful independent stores in Margate and across the district.”

The Task Force will continue to work with Margate through the coming months. This support will begin with a follow-up in January to scope out what practical support and service will be provided to the council to support the town’s transformation. 

The full report for Margate can be read here.

If you would like to be added to our high streets mailing list, please contact highstreets@thanet.gov.uk.

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