Friday, 30 March 2012


Thanet has missed out on government funding to help bring empty High Street shops back into use in what the council is calling “a real travesty”.

The government announced earlier today (Friday 30 March) that they would be allocating £10 million to 100 districts across the country from their High Street Innovation Fund Grant. This will support new business start-ups, whilst bringing empty High Street properties back into use.

Thanet has not been included in this list of 100 districts, despite Margate regularly being named amongst the worst in the UK for its level of empty shops.

Councils were not asked to apply for this money. It was instead allocated by the government using business rate returns. These look at the business rates collected across a whole district for all commercial, industrial and retail units and warehousing. This is then compared with how much business rate relief has been given to empty commercial units throughout an area. This method of calculation does not focus on High Street empty shop levels.

Leader of the Council, Cllr. Clive Hart, said: “To me, this is a real travesty. I cannot believe that Thanet is not going to receive any of this money, given our well documented issues with empty shops. Margate is sadly all too often in the national news headlines, perhaps sometimes unfairly, for having some of the highest levels of empty shops in the country. To hear that £10 million is being allocated by the government to tackle this problem and we are not receiving any of this is exceptionally disappointing to say the least.”

He added: “The way they have calculated this does not give a true measure of empty shops on the High Street and, as such, we feel this is a very unfair way of deciding who should receive the money. I sincerely hope that the next round of Portas funding, which all our three towns are applying for, will see success for Thanet, as the area desperately needs the additional funding on offer.”

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