Redevelopment of the Medway towns is always a discussion I enjoy and it seems that there’s a new topic on the development horizon which is going to move Medway into unchartered territory, as Medway Council have agreed plans to buy Chatham’s Pentagon Shopping Centre.
The Pentagon was constructed in the early 1970s. The demolition work that took place to make way for the centre included premises held by the local book printer Mackays of Chatham, who moved their workshop to Lordswood and still reside there. Through the years retailers have come and gone from the Pentagon. More mature readers might remember the likes of C & A, Wimpy, Bejams, and Saxon Shoes. Some smaller, independent retailers have included Snobs, Jones the Newsagents and John Menzies. Now it has popular stores like Wilkinson, The Works and Sainsbury.
The centre first hit some issues in the early 1980s when Sainsbury’s Savacentre opened in Gillingham – trade took a dive and retailers struggled. Then the development of two huge shopping centres in the South East – Thurrock in Lakeside, Essex and Bluewater near Greenhithe, had a big impact with both boasting of their impressive size. Smaller shopping centres like the Pentagon were hit hard by their arrival. Unfortunately the simultaneous rise of ecommerce led to a quick and hard decline in high street shopping. This Christmas even I noticed the big centres like Bluewater were relatively quiet.
This latest move by Medway Council will result in the £45 million purchase making us taxpayers stakeholders in the Pentagon Centre and to my mind, it actually makes a lot of sense, as it supports the long term plans for the regeneration of Chatham. It’s a chance for the council to protect commercial regeneration in the area.
Council leader Cllr Alan Jarrett (Con) said: “Our town centres are changing. We need to diversify. We need to invest.” The Pentagon could be a good long term investment for the Council – if the area stays vibrant, the centre and surrounding high street will remain useful for residents and shoppers. Of course there are also possible development opportunities – but it is clear that the focus is on commercial regeneration as a priority.
On the subject of development opportunities, I am chairing an HMO focus group. This mastermind group is an invite-only event for portfolio landlords & established investors who are looking to purchase HMO properties in the UK. If you think this is something you might be interested in joining, get in touch so we can have a chat. You can contact me by email firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 07944 726676.