Canterbury’s Trading Estates

Since the 1960s the map of Canterbury reflects the development of commercial retail and trading estates built outside the city centre. These sites are mostly attached to the A28 Radial route through Wincheap and the Sturry Road.

Wincheap Industrial Estate

The medieval suburb of Wincheap (Old English Waegnceap, indicating a wine or wagon market), has always served as a market place where rural folk meet the town outside the city walls.

The Wincheap Industrial Estate was the first and remains the largest of Canterbury’s trading parks, laid out on a grid basis with three parallel roads, Cotton Road, Maynard Road and Simmonds Road connected by cross roads. In the late-20th century the term “Industrial Estate” became a misnomer as this commercial estate had no manufacturing industry of its own. About 70 trading units supply industrial and domestic tools, carpets, beds, electrical and digital goods, paint, frozen food, drinks, gardening equipment, printing and a multitude of services, including welfare services. In 1996 an extension opened in a retail park next to the A28/A2 junction which comprise an out-of-town Boots, Mothercare, Morrison’s superstore, Carpet Warehouse, Argos Extra, Staples and Pets at Home.

The Sturry Road

To the NE of the city centre, the first landmark is the main Sainsbury’s superstore opened in 1984. Very different in appearance from most supermarket barn or warehouse designs, the building relies on steel masts, from which the roof is suspended by cables. Some commentators joked that it would look good when the roof was put on. It was awarded the Civic Trust Award in 1986 and the Structural Steel Design Award in 1985.

Across the road from Sainsbury’s and contiguous with the Sturry Road (A28), the city’s first large development of the 21st century is going up, the Riverside Centre. The centre will combine leisure facilities, including a multiplex cinema, with residential accommodation and promises high quality and specialist retailers, cafés and restaurants. If the Riverside successfully appeals to resident and visitor markets, will it release pressure on the commercial centre or hasten its end?

The Asda superstore on the Sturry Road is by far the biggest in Canterbury. It replaced a smaller Keymarkets in the early ‘90s, has an ancillary petrol station, a vast car park and the vast warehouse occupies 11,648 square metres of floor space. This compares with Morrison’s, 5,760, and near rival Sainsbury’s, 4,723 square metres. (Waitrose in the central location of St George’s Place has an underground car park, being Waitrose it would, wouldn’t it?) The Asda roundabout also gives access to B&Q and Lidl stores on the other side. To the side of Asda, Marshwood Close Trading estate includes an Argos store, B&M furniture, Poundstretcher Cleaning, building merchants Travis Perkins, and car parts and electrical units, compactly sited within the Northgate ward of Canterbury.

The 1970s Vauxhall Road Industrial Estate includes ParkerSteel, a number of car dealerships and the council’s recycling centre. At the junction of Vauxhall Road and Sturry Road the Canterbury Retail Park (1997) incorporates Curry’s PC World, Carpetright and the Range (which replaced Toys R Us). The more recent Maybrook Retail Park (2005), on the other side of the Vauxhall Road, comprises a M&S food store, Halfords, DW Sport Fitness, Maplin, a gym, Curry’s and a KFC. The Vauxhall road marks the boundary of the Northgate ward of Canterbury. The Sturry Retail Park, accessed from the Sturry Road opposite the Vauxhall Road, on the site of a former Mother’s Pride bakery, strings together TK Maxx, Sports Direct and Matalan stores, capped by McDonalds.

Both the Sturry Road and Wincheap trading estates have the benefit of Park and Ride sites and the development of out-of-centre shopping works well for people coming in to town from the surrounding rural areas. However, a lethal combination of traffic tailback pollution and vibration causes unrelenting damage to the pre-existing housing and older buildings along this ancient thoroughfare. Within living memory Wincheap residents recall the bellowing of cows from Chartham driven along the street to market (and not in motorised vehicles) – twice a week.

Return to the homepage for 20th-century Canterbury, or explore Canterbury’s economic growth through the essays on Canterbury’s commerce and industrial heritage, its retail industry, or Canterbury as a boom city. You can also learn more about how Canterbury has been shaped by other facets of its transport infrastructure and the railway, as well as planning decisions, and the significant impact of the Second World War.