Our town centres aren't ready for the post-retail future
With little levelling up money on the horizon, what next for our town centres?
Even before the news of Wilko leaving our town centres, it would have been difficult to say that any of our five towns were truly thriving.
Some are in a better position than others, certainly. Rochester and its tourism and hospitality focus is better positioned to weather the decline we’re seeing in retail across the board. Rainham was doing better than it had any right to be before a Wilko-sized hole was carved out of its centre.
But elsewhere? Things aren’t great.
There’s no point pretending that there hasn’t been a big shift in the way that we use our town centres in the last decade or so. Online shopping has dramatically changed the game, as has the shift toward out-of-town centre retail parks at the same time as supermarkets and large chains departed the more traditional high streets.
Town centres built during retail booms are now facing significant numbers of empty properties unless they can quickly adapt. Sadly, Medway is struggling in that regard.
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