DARTFORD IN THE 1980s AND 1990s
Dartford's town centre was transformed in the 1980s with the construction of The Orchards Shopping Centre, Cleves Court, and Copperfields, the re-location of the market to a covered site at the rear of the Priory Shopping Centre, pedestrianisation of the High Street, the construction of new roads, the opening of a Civic Centre, and the building of the Orchard Theatre. These were just some of the main town-centre developments of the 1980s. The Knights Manor Estate and other housing developments provided new accommodation for the borough's expanding population.
Along with most of the south of England, Dartford experienced an economic boom in the early to mid 1980s. House prices rocketed. Average earnings had risen consistently above inflation. This boom was unsustainable. By the 1990s inflation peaked at 15%, the national level of unemployment rose to over 3 million and the housing market collapsed. The thing that united the people of Dartford in 1990 was opposition to the government's much-hated Poll Tax, which was eventually replaced by a fairer system of Council Tax.
The process of modernisation and development of the town centre continued
throughout the 1990s. New County Court and Department of Social Security
buildings were constructed in the town and improvements made to the urban
environment. Small office blocks housing new businesses sprung-up in and
around the town centre, as well as purpose-built industrial estates and
a number of exclusive residential developments.