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Canterbury City Kent UK
Canterbury in General
Author Name: gabbyco
Canterbury in General
Advantages: Compact City Centre, Some Retailers left in the city, Cathedral and some historical buildings
Disadvantages: Congestion, Cost of Parking, lack of night life, too many pubs, too many empty stores
Canterbury is a compact and historical city that the recession and both the national Labour and Conservative controlled Canterbury City Council have done much to damage.
In terms of negatives, parking in Canterbury is difficult. There are two main park and ride facilities one at Sturry and one at Morrisons and a third one planned but now on hold because of the ongoing economic recession in the UK and difficult economic environment.
Parking centrally, there are two may be three main car parks, the multi storey at Whitefriars which is expensive and usually full parking is around 1.50 an hour, then there is Watford Street Car park again usually full.
Although Canterbury has much in the way of historical interest and is a world heritage centre, with the Cathedral itself and the buildings on Mercury Lane, and other historical buildings including Westgate, the City suffers from traffic congestion though due to the recession this has substantially lessened as people use their cars less.
There is a central bus station adjacent to the Whitefriars shopping centre that links for National Express bus services to London and beyond and buses to the rest of the East Kent towns, Deal, Sandwich, Broadstairs, Ramgate, Herne Bay, Dover and Folkestone.
Two main rail stations Canterbury West to Charing Cross which is now the high speed link to London St Pancras in 45 minutes which makes commuting worth while and the slower service from Canterbury East to London Victoria which takes around an hour and a half.
Housing in Canterbury to buy is expensive, there is a large student population with various universities in the city such as Christ Church and Kent University in the city, and renting is also expensive in the city partly because of the students.
Most employment is in small business, public sector, Education especially Higher Education, the NHS, and in Retail. Wages in Canterbury are less than the Kent Average and less than the South East Average.
Canterbury has good housing stock for a population of 50,000 which swells with students to around 106,000.
Many buildings are grade one or grade 2 listed and some are modern. There are also a lot of flats. Good areas in Canterbury to buy are the City Centre, though noisy in the evenings due to the bars and during the day due to the shops, other areas that are nice include Harble Down, Barham, just outside the city walls and near to the Westgate Towers.
Avoid the area of Sturry and Wincheap, both are cheaper and avoid Thanington without. Many anti social behaviour problems and a large stock of social housing.
Canterbury has one small and dated cinema called the Odeon which is expensive and uncomfortable, a recently opened bowling alley in part of the former Safeways / Morrisons store in St George's Street Canterbury, and a sports centre near to Vauxhall.
The 1930's art deco Marlowe Theatre which was the original Odeon Cinema has now been demolished and is being rebuilt in a modern style that is out of keeping with Canterbury's UNESCO's World Heritage site.
In fact Canterbury CC are allowing ugly and modern buildings to appear all over the city without any care to the historical environment of Canterbury.
Hotels in Canterbury include the Abode a four star formerly the County that is expensive and overrated for where it is with difficult car parking which isn't on site.
Other hotels are further out including a Best Western Hotel that is 3 star and also not very good on New Dover Road and the Thistle Swan hotel near St George's roundabout.
Cantebury has an abundance of restaurants both individual say The Olive Grove ( Italian) and Cafe De China ( Chinese) that thrive alongside the chains, Carluccio's (in Fenwicks), Strada, (Italian), Wagamama et al.
Canterbury also has a lot of retail stores, though nowadays these are mainly chains as independents cannot afford the ridiculous costs of leases in the city centre which in my personal view is damaging Canterbury as a retail shopping centre of choice.
Because of the excessive costs of leases which are more expensive than Tunbridge Wells where I live which is nearer to London and also with a higher disposable income, many retail chains have folded in Canterbury due to administration and or the cost of leases.
Examples include Whittards, closed down, Woolworths still empty over 13 months on and on the market at a ridiculous cost of 325k more than the Tunbridge Wells Woolworths store was which is much larger and now relet, whilst Canterbury's lies empty, as well as Warehouse gone, Bay Trading, Swatch, Gap, Dolland and Aitchinson, Zavvi, Qube, Espirit, Coffee Republic, USC, Free Spirit, and many others have gone from Canterbury leaving the Whitefriars shopping centre the centre piece of Canterbury's retail revival adorned with empty stores and to let signs, which is embarrassing for Canterbury and it's citizens. There is a retail recession but Canterbury is faring badly compared to say Tunbridge Wells, Maidstone and Bluewater and many other comparable cities and towns partly because of the cost of leases is failing to attract new retailers to the city.
For the retailers left, you have a large Fenwicks which is bigger than the Tunbridge Wells store, a big BHS ( not that good but I don't like BHS anyway), a large 3 floor M and S ( again less good than the Tunbridge Wells store), and Nasons and Debenhams Department stores the first an independent the latter part of a chain over three different stores and many levels but very nice all the same.
Canterbury also has a good night life with for example the Works, and many pub chains and restaurants though sadly Ha Ha who I liked in St Margaret's Street is now shored up with scaffolding to prevent the building collapsing and this is a grade two building.
Canterbury is a nice compact city, but for retail it really looks like it is dying as a city centre. I think this is the fault of both the city council with their silly parking policy and the disvestment of the shopping centre which was previously owned by one company Land Securities and now owned by three different companies who only have an interest in their fast buck and profit returns.
I increasingly avoid Canterbury nowadays because as of January 2010 all I notice are more chains closing in the city and no sign of any of the Whitefriars Centre voids being re-let any time soon
Do as a day trip, may be a weekend avoid for a holiday there are better places than Canterbury to enjoy aka Tunbridge Wells and Brighton and less populated with tourists
Summary: Canterbury is ok for a day trip or weekend but nothing more, and has been hit badly by the recession
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