Greg Clark says The Pantiles is one of the best streets in the UK

Pam Mills
Greg Clark with judges from the Visa-sponsored High Street of the Year competition

That is the view of Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark, who said the shopping district has come a long way in ten years to become ‘one of the most beautiful streets in the country’.

He has backed The Pantiles, alongside the High Street and Chapel Place, to win the Champion category in the awards, which are sponsored by Visa.

The trio of shopping streets are one of 26 areas on a shortlist for the Great British High Street Award. Judges came to town on Friday [October 5] to have a look around the district for themselves.

Mr Clark said: “There are lots of vibrant and innovative parts of Tunbridge Wells that command attention.

“There has been a marked transformation of The Pantiles in recent years as traders have worked together and with local authorities to pull people in,” he added, citing Jazz on The Pantiles as an example.

“The Pantiles is the kind of place where you will find there is not only lots going on, but that it is interesting and enjoyable. It was not always like that, ten years ago it was a quiet place without much sign of life.

“It shows what can be done when people come together. I think it is now one of the most beautiful streets in the country.”

The Great British High Street Awards will be presented in a London ceremony on November 15. A public vote counts for 30 per cent of an entry’s score, which will also be shaped by the judge’s results.

Mr Clark, who doubles up as Business Secretary, stopped short of saying the areas were his favourite part of Tunbridge Wells, admired The Pantiles’ progression – and said this made it well placed for the future.

He continued: “The retail environment is changing. On The Pantiles, shops are trading online and also keeping a shopfront – showing both can be done successfully. We have the ingredients for success and people who are deeply committed to the area.

“Moving forward, it is a challenge of thinking creatively about what innovative ideas can be used.”  

Tunbridge Wells entered the awards in 2016, when they were last held.

High streets are marked on four categories: Community engagement, customer experience, environmental measures and digital transformation. Hemlata Narasimhan, Head of Merchant Service at award sponsors Visa, said: “Tunbridge Wells made the shortlist because of the performance in all four categories.”

For more information and instructions of how to vote, visit  

Votes must be cast before November 1.

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