It has been assessed and accepted by Thanet District Council in their report (pdf) that the proposed Superstore of 7677 sq. mtrs will take 30% of trade from existing businesses. 10% of this will come from the existing traders in Margate.
A 10% decrease on the rateable value of commercial property in Margate and Westgate should be requested by businesses if the planning application is approved. Traffic problems will also contribute to a further loss of business as motorists will simply not be able to get into town on Fridays and Saturdays due to their predicted 17,000 extra vehicle movements. And this is from a traffic survey conducted out of season last October, before the opening of Turner Contemporary and without taking into account any traffic that may be generated by Dreamland.
This should therefore also be taken into account when calculating the rateable value of businesses affected by the opening of the Superstore.
Is there a precedent for businesses successfully claiming a reduction in their rates?
Yes. In Holmbush, Sussex over 100 appeals were filed and the district valuer gave a blanket reduction of 20% to all those who appealed.
Here in Margate, the applicant, Freshwater, is promising 3 hours free parking for customers of the Superstore. This is said to enable shoppers sufficient time to visit shops in Margate Old Town and the High Street after they have finished with their shopping in the Arlington Superstore. Even if the applicant maintained this promise, it is hard to imagine shoppers leaving their weeks shopping with refrigerated or frozen goods in the car while they go to get some fruit from the local greengrocer or have a coffee elsewhere in the town.
The doccuments submitted on behalf of the applicant by Colin Buchanan (Traffic Consultants), a comment attributed to Kent County Council states,“If the developer is unable to provide any other suitable mitigation proposals in addition to the proposed box junction markings at Cecil Square and, assuming satisfactory resolution of the other issues listed below, we are minded to recommend refusal of the application on the grounds of the unacceptable, increased congestion and delays likely to be created by the proposals in relation to the Clock Tower and Cecil Square”.
If the officer’s report is correct, it will result in a trebling of the length of the current queues (not merely a doubling as previously mentioned). The Officer’s report states that traffic queues will be extended by (sic) 27 vehicles and 59 vehicles on Marine Drive and Marine Gardens respectively.
Clarification of this particular point needs to be sought. In any event, Marine Gardens (the length of roadway between Cecil Square and the Clocktower roundabout) is not sufficiently long to contain a queue of even 59 vehicles – because this will include buses. It also calls into question why the bus companies have not been consulted on this application.