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ISSUE 9 2015 medway making history

medway making history winter 2015

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Skill building University Technical College breeds success Artistic license Creative talent thrives in Medway Pride of place Chatham’s designs for living Rich heritage 800 years of history


Medway1 partners group Joining together to support Medway GL Hearn Jon Pinkerton jon.pinkerton@glhearn.com

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contents issue#09_winter ‘15

MEDWAY 1 Editorial director: Siobhán Crozier Editor: Maria Shahid Chief reporter: James Wood Head of design: Rachael Schofield Designer: Kelly Flood Production assistant: Chris Hazeldine Business development director: Paul Gussar Business development manager: Chris Joyce Office manager: Sue Mapara Subscriptions manager: Simon Maxwell Managing director: Toby Fox

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Printed by: Bishops Printers Cover image: Medway University Technical College by David Tothill Images: David Tothill, Countryside, The Imageworks, Goodman, mhs homes, Beanstalk, Medway Council, Rochester Art Gallery, Rikard Osterlund, Jesse Brennan, Gary Weston – spaghettiweston.com, Shelly Goldsmith, Dan Perfect, Sun Pier House, Marek Sikora, Emily Long, Tayla Bruen, Berkeley Homes, Trenport Investments, James LinsellClarke, Network Rail, Redrow, Steve Mallaby Photography, ©Paul C. Davies Photography – pcdphotography.com, Icomera Published by: Southbank House, Black Prince Road London SE1 7SJ 020 7978 6840

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For Medway Council

Gun Wharf Dock Road Chatham Kent ME4 4TR 01634 331323 Head of regeneration and economic development, Medway Council Frances Toomey frances.toomey@medway.gov.uk Subscriptions and feedback: medway1.com © 3Fox International Limited 2015. All material is strictly copyright and all rights are reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without the written p ­ ermission of 3Fox International Limited is strictly f­orbidden. The greatest care has been taken to ensure accuracy of information in this magazine at time of going to press, but we accept no r­ esponsibility for omissions or errors. The views expressed in this ­magazine are not ­necessarily those of 3Fox International Limited.

05 News

A round-up of what’s new in Medway.

14 Employment and skills

The University Technical College opened its doors to its first students in September, transforming the skills of Medway’s youth.

39 Placemaking

Medway Council has made the regeneration of Chatham a key priority by challenging perceptions and creating a sense of place.

44 Markets

Vital statistics on what makes Medway tick.

19 Creative industries

47 Heritage and culture

24 Map and projects

53 Made in Medway

Nucleus Arts and Arts Fest are just two of the events and organisations helping to turn Medway into the destination for creatives. An overview of development schemes underway and in the offing.

32 Regeneration priorities

Medway Council’s leader, Councillor Alan Jarrett, shares his vision for the area’s opportunity sites.

The council has laid on a programme of festivals and events to celebrate Medway’s place in history. Technology company, Icomera, is helping to connect people on the move with the support of the Innovation Centre Medway.

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WORKING IN MEDWAY AND SWALE, TO DELIVER NEW HOMES AND ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY The scaffolding and piling will soon disappear to reveal… this elegant all-new crossing of the River Medway

£50 million project beside the River Medway to create a 1,000-home community, dovetailing with the existing villages of Wouldham, Burham, Eccles, Halling and Snodland Full planning permissions already agreed for high quality builds on Phases 1&2 – the blueprint for a premium development Regeneration of this brownfield site is right on schedule, with major infrastructure now in place prior to a start on housebuilding early next year New road from Halling and Snodland will cross the Medway near Wouldham, using an all-new bridge – now taking shape and expected to open for traffic in summer 2016

“Trenport is pleased to be working closely with the local authorities and communities of the Medway Valley and Swale areas, and the Government’s Homes & Communities Agency, to revitalise brownfield land, creating new homes, jobs, opportunities and amenities. “And we’re proud that Peters Village – south of the Medway Towns – is now following in the footsteps of other Trenport developments at Eurolink and Great Easthall in Swale.”

Tony Parson - Managing Director, Trenport Investments Ltd


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One thousand new homes at Peters Village Building work is to begin in early 2016 on 1,000 homes beside the River Medway. Trenport Investments said it would offer a quarter of the homes for affordable rent at its 35-ha Peters Village scheme – which it acquired in 2001. The project was mothballed in 2007, but started up again in 2014, with work to build a road between the villages of Halling and Snodland. A spokesperson for Trenport said the aim is to build a new community rather than just an estate. The development will include shops, amenities and open spaces – with the villages of Wouldham, Burham and Eccles linked to Halling

and Snodland to the west via a bridge over the River Medway. “The river bridge is the key to everything,” explained Trenport director, Chris Hall. “Those moving into Peters Village will then be attracted by easy access to jobs, education, shopping, recreation and London, but those same benefits apply to all neighbouring villages on both banks.” Funding for the £50 million scheme includes £19.5 million from the government’s Homes and Communities Agency. The development is being built on a brownfield site – the former Peters Lime and Cement Works.

Residents set for Victory Pier homes The latest phase of homes has been launched at Berkeley Homes’ Victory Pier scheme (above) on the River Medway. Apartments at Peninsula Quay start from £140,000, made up of one, two and three-bedroom properties. Berkeley Homes head of sales for west London, Danny Rowland, said: “Peninsula Quay encompasses all the must-haves that homebuyers ideally want when purchasing a new property. The contemporary-designed apartments

not only feature a superb specification but are ideally located within walking distance of Medway’s great amenities and fast commuter links to London.” Victory Pier also features shops, a hotel, gym and Wi-Fi lounge, with bars and restaurants also set to open soon. Homes at the development are located within 15 minutes of Gillingham station, which provides trains to central London, with journey times starting from 46 minutes.

Peninsula Quay encompasses all the must-haves that homebuyers ideally want


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Second phase gets go-ahead at Horsted Park The developer Countryside has won approval for the second phase of homes at its Horsted Park scheme in Chatham. Plans include 202 homes and 63 extra care apartments for older people, which face out on to open countryside, as well as open spaces within the

development and community facilities. Based at the former site of MidKent College, Countryside is nearing completion on the first 87 homes, which make up the first phase of the project, Iain McPherson, managing director of Countryside’s new homes and

communities south division, said: “We are confident the scheme will deliver significant benefits for the local community.” The scheme has received a Housing Design Award and a Kent Design and Development Award.

Minister visits key Medway sites The minister of state for communities and local government, Mark Francois, has been given a tour of some of Medway’s key regeneration sites. Francois was shown the £650 million Chatham Waters development, which features up to 950 homes, restaurants, commercial spaces and offices. The council said the scheme will create 3,500 jobs. The recently-opened University Technical College in Chatham (see pages 11– 13) was another stop on the tour. Jane Chitty, Medway Council’s portfolio holder for planning, economic growth and regulation, pointed to other schemes in the pipeline, such as the development of Rochester Airport and plans for Rochester Riverside, which she called “one of the most important regeneration projects in the Thames Gateway”. “The transformation of Medway as a place to live, work, visit and learn has been an incredible sight to see,” added Chitty.

The transformation of Medway has been an incredible sight to see

And then there were two Medway Council has narrowed its list of potential developers from five to two for the 30-ha, mixed-use Rochester Riverside project. Barratt and Countryside have reached the final stage of the process, and as Medway1 went to press, were due to submit design proposals. The final developer is due to be announced in March 2016. The council’s development brief, adopted in September 2014, promotes the delivery of 1,400 new homes as well as commercial office and retail space, a hotel, restaurants, primary school, community facilities and accessible waterfront. A new £26 million Rochester station is due to open at the site in December, which will deliver longer trains and a more reliable service. The council’s multi-storey, 325-space car park is also due to open in spring 2016. The council and its partner, the Homes and Communities Agency, have already invested in the site by constructing a new river wall and flood defences to make the riverside development ready.


[ news ]

Industrial unit work under way was attracting market interest. He added that: “There are a number of plots on the park primed and ready for development with a turnaround time of just seven months to build a fully operational logistics centre, so whatever customers are looking for we have something to fit their needs. “The park itself is in a strong strategic location. Thanks to this and a quality Goodman product we are not surprised to be experiencing strong interest from potential customers.”  

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Theatre Quarter scoops award Heart of Medway Housing Association, part of the mhs homes group has triumphed in the New Build category at the Medway Culture, Design and Tourism awards. It won for its Theatre Quarter development, built on the site of the former Theatre Royal Auditorium, which includes 26 one and two-bedroom apartments available for rent and shared ownership, and was completed in March 2015. It also contains two apartments that have been adapted for use by wheelchair users. The homes were built thanks to a £650,000 grant from the Homes and Communities Agency. Local contractors Jenner Group built the properties and the shared ownership units were marketed by sales agents Red Loft. Ashley Hook, chief executive of mhs homes, said: “We are thrilled that our Theatre Quarter development has been recognised as a great example of new build homes.  “We are proud to contribute to the regeneration of Chatham with our Theatre Quarter scheme and hope to build 540 high-quality homes to rent and buy across Kent, over the next three years.” The award was announced on Thursday 22 October 2015.  Heart of Medway has now expanded beyond the area, having completed its first Dartford development – a collection of two-bedroom homes available for shared ownership.

Theatre and performance space opens The University of Kent and the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust have opened a new lecture theatre and performance space in Medway. Located in Chatham’s Royal Dockyard Church, the facility will be used by the university’s students, staff and the wider community. It was opened by the university’s vice-chancellor, Professor Dame Julia Goodfellow, on 22 October. The church, a Scheduled Ancient Monument, has been converted for its new use with lighting, sound, projection and blackout features installed.

Consultancy calls for specialist housing Planning and design consultancy Barton Willmore has called for housebuilders to provide more specialist accommodation for older people, after its research concluded that councils throughout Medway and Kent are dealing with a 73% increase in the number of people aged over 65. The report, ‘An ageing nation: are we planning for our future?’ raised the concern that a considerable number of local authorities are not planning properly for their ageing population. Research for Medway concludes that the population figure of 268,218

is due to increase by 2037 to 326,849. The number of those aged over 65 is predicted to increase from 39,105 to 69,917 in the same period – a five per cent increase. Government policy requires all councils to deliver and plan for a mix of housing based on demographic trends, market trends and the needs of different groups within the community – including families with children, older people, service families and people with disabilities. Huw Edwards, planning partner at Barton Willmore’s Ebbsfleet office,

said: “As older people retire, there is a strong case for creating quality and attractive retirement housing for those who would like to move or downsize – freeing up space in economic centres, and alleviating pressure on our stretched housing supply and helping to tackle the housing crisis. “To achieve this we need a way to make strategic and sensitive decisions about housing that support the effective functioning of the market.” The report was released in September 2015 at the Retirement Housing Group Conference.

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Building work is well under way on a 24,765sq m industrial distribution unit at London Medway Commercial Park and is due to be completed by the end of the year. The unit is being developed on a speculative basis by property group Goodman, and represents a £20 million investment in the site. It will be 15m high, the service yard will span 50m, and the scheme also features 24 loading doors and 236 car spaces. George Glennie, development director at Goodman UK Logistics said the unit


[ news ]

Rochester named top commuter town MEDWAY 1

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In October 2015, the London Evening Standard named Rochester among the top 20 commuter towns for Londoners looking to quit the city. The Homes and Property section of the newspaper called the town “the jewel of Medway”, and praised the “attractive town centre”. It also commented on the town’s accessibility to the capital – with journey times of 39 minutes, and suggested that the town benefits from Kent’s grammar school system. Rochester has become a popular town for commuters with new homes being built and an extensive amount of regeneration under way along the River Medway. A £26 million rail station for Rochester on Corporation Street is scheduled for completion by the end of 2015. Located 500 metres up the track from its current location, the new terminal will feature longer platforms with room to accommodate 12-car trains. There will also be an “integrated transport hub” to connect to buses, a drop-off point for cars and taxis and a £1.8 million subway built between the high street and the station.

Volunteers sign up for charity’s schools project

This campaign is set to be a springboard for improvement to our schools

A charity is aiming to recruit people in Medway to volunteer as readers in local primary schools. The project was launched in April 2015 by the literacy charity, Beanstalk, as part of the council’s Get Medway Learning initiative. So far, 28 volunteers have taken part in helping young people to read in Medway’s schools, with a further 12 vetted and awaiting placement. Beanstalk set up the project in response to its findings that one in six children in Medway leave primary school having failed to reach the expected reading standards. The ‘Get Medway Learning’ project also aims to

recruit experienced and good quality teachers, as well as promoting the important role school governors have in improving Medway’s schools. Medway Council’s portfolio holder for children’s services, Councillor Mike O’Brien, said: “This campaign is set to be a springboard for improvement and progress to our schools here in Medway, particularly primary schools. “While we have some excellent schools in the area, some are not performing to the expected standard and while they are working hard to improve, some are not making progress quickly enough.”


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[ news ]

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DIRECTOR LEADS REGENERATION DRIVE Richard Hicks has been appointed as Medway Council’s director for regeneration, community and culture, a role which he previously supported as deputy – and then as acting – director, after Robin Cooper left Medway to become chief executive of Ebbsfleet Development Corporation. Hicks’ appointment coincides with the council’s fresh impetus around the potential for development – since Councillor Alan Jarrett took over as leader of Medway Council in May 2015, he has implemented an in-depth review of sites. “The leader has given us the task of reviewing all previous planning policies, looking at what has been successful, where we are now and what are the opportunities,” Hicks told Medway1. “Councillor Jarrett has also outlined priorities around pace, negotiation with developers and delivery. We were able to strategically map what those opportunities will be in the future. The council is also working hard on placemaking, a clear priority for us.” For developers, the advantages of investing in Medway are equally clear, Hicks said: “We’re a unitary

authority – developers don’t want to speak to one level of local government and then another. Here, it’s in one place – the planning authority and highways authority; the council sets policies for housing, education, and holds responsibility for public realm, in which it has invested significantly.” A priority for economic growth is the plan for Rochester Airport Technology Park, granted Enterprise Zone status by the government in November. “This will support the delivery of 1,000 high-quality jobs and will establish Medway as an outstanding location for business. It’s ideally located, close to the M2 and M20, and benefits from close proximity to BAE Systems, one of our major employers. The site is perfect for expansion, alongside the very successful Innovation Centre Medway,” Hicks said. He cited connectivity as being key to opportunities in Medway: “The fast train service and our location, being so close to London, is vital. We’re strategically positioned mid-point between the capital and the continent – but there is also London Paramount,

planned to be built by 2021, with investment of £3.2 billion generating 27,000 jobs. “For employers thinking of investing here we have a strong portfolio of skills among the workforce, with more development on stream, as Medway has four universities, plus the new University Technical College and MidKent College, all offering training at different levels and across the range of sectors that are present in our economy. The fourth huge opportunity is our regeneration programme, with Rochester Riverside, investment in stations, and residential sites in Chatham, including its waterfront.” Hicks views the different strands of his responsibilities as complementary: “Our strapline – rich heritage, great future – reflects that we are surrounded by history, alongside sites where new buildings are coming out the ground. Medway is special and different because of the heritage and the cultural offer, which creates a sense of place and makes Medway a great place to live and work, to learn and visit.”


CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: Aerial view over Rochester towards Rochester Riverside and Medway City Estate; Chatham Waters; Dickensian Christmas Festival; Wheelchair Rugby World Cup Final, Medway Park; new Rochester Station and HMS Gannet, Historic Dockyard Chatham.

MEDWAY’S HISTORY HELPS FORGE ITS FUTURE Medway is harnessing its rich heritage to build a dynamic and prosperous future

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he largest urban area in the South East outside London is pairing a glittering cultural offer with its story of growth and regeneration to put Medway firmly on the map. A bold 20-year regeneration programme is dedicated to boosting the area’s economic growth and creating sustainable communities. Already Medway Council spends more than £20m on green spaces, heritage, libraries, arts, theatres, leisure, sports and tourism.


Sponsored by Medway Council

Of the four million people who visit annually, many experience heritage riches such as historic Rochester with its cathedral, tallest Norman castle in the country and 13th century high street. Nearby Chatham Historic Dockyard dates from the age of sail and is the best preserved in the world. And nearly 150 years after his death Charles Dickens’ many links with Medway attract some 120,000 visitors who visit two annual Dickens festivals in June and December. The author’s stature as one of English literature’s greatest writers is an integral part of

Medway’s cultural offer which establishes the area as Dickens Country. Due to its proximity to London and the addition of a fast train line – a new £26 million station opens at Rochester in December 2015 – Medway is growing significantly. Over the coming years the population is expected to expand to more than 300,000. With great connections to Europe, one of the most exciting regeneration zones in the Thames Gateway, four universities, and a thriving economy, Medway is emerging as an even more desirable place to live, visit, work and learn. M


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BUILDING BLOCKS

The Medway University Technical College opened its doors at the beginning of the 2015/2016 academic year, creating a different educational path for Medway’s ambitous teenagers. James Wood visits the college, with pictures by David Tothill


[ employment, training and skills ]

LEFT AND BELOW: The UTC teaches both traditional subjects and courses in engineering and construction.

The Medway UTC requires its 14-year-old students to take traditional compulsory GCSE subjects too: English, maths and science classes usually take place in the morning, followed by the engineering and construction sessions, which form the core of the students’ studies. For sixth formers, the focus is on industry-based qualifications, with a wide range of suitable A-levels and BTec courses on offer, including ICT and business skills, as well as product design and engineering. Students have long days at the college; the idea being that working between

8.30 and 5.30 will stand them in good stead for employment. Homework is not given, freeing the teenagers to engage in extracurricular activities in the evenings. It is clearly important for the college to ensure that students participate in a wide variety of activities: an enrichment programme is allotted for college hours, where students take a break from the workbench and turn their hand to a wide range of pursuits – from music to sport to computer engineering. Sixth formers are also encouraged to take work experience placements at construction and engineering companies, several of which partner the Medway UTC, such as BAE Systems – which is based in the area – BAM Construct UK, Bouygues UK and Delphi. It is not a compulsory requirement to do so but if students wish to pursue such opportunities, they can source their own placements. This supports one of the common assertions students give as to why they are enjoying their courses. Robert Gladden, who aspires to become the college’s head boy, says: “I think the hours are similar to what we will have later on, when we might be working in a factory or office. One of the great »

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he drone of heavy-duty machinery and abrasive clash of metal upon metal reverberate around Chatham Waters, one of Medway’s key development locations. An area with many regeneration projects under way is an appropriate place then for the region’s new £11.4 million University Technical College (UTC), which offers GCSE and sixth form students aged between 14 and 19 an alternative path to educational success, providing training in construction as well as engineering. Opened in September 2015, the UTC has taken in 188 year 10 and 12 pupils, just shy of its target of 190. As the current crop of students move into their second year in 2016, two new year groups will join; the college is confident it will not take long to fill its capacity of 600 students. Government-funded UTCs were set up in 2010 to offer an alternative to the traditional qualifications provided by secondary schools and sixth form colleges, while addressing the government’s perceived skills shortages in labour-intensive industries. By the beginning of the 2015 academic year 39 UTCs had opened, and the aim is to open another 55 by 2017.


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things is that we’re respected and treated like adults. There is pressure on us to do well, but that’s something that makes me want to do the best that I can.” Students like Gladden – who has a clear idea of what he wants to do in the future – consider the UTC a worthwhile route into their chosen field. Gladden has ambitions to work in the aviation industry: “I’ve always been interested in doing that and the UTC gives me the option to learn the skills I need to help me achieve it,” he explains. “After my studies here, I want to go down the apprenticeship route and my eventual aim is to work for Rolls-Royce.” Gladden says the UTC will help him work towards that goal: “My enrichment programme involves stripping down an engine. If I can learn these sorts of skills during my studies at the UTC, I think this will set me up really well for the future.” Students are busy working on a project to design an aerodynamic bottle holder for a racing bike. Thomas Russell and Michael Lamb are sketching designs. Both agree

that creating useful products is a rewarding part of the course. Year 10 students also have clear ambitions. Tommy Garrett wants to be an easyJet pilot and Connie Huntingford is aiming to challenge the stereotype that engineering and construction are male-dominated industries. “I’ve been really into engineering for ages,” she says. “There’s no-one in my family who does it, but I really want to. It would be great to see more girls and women working in engineering. I’m sure there are people who think I shouldn’t be doing this at all, but I’m out to prove them all wrong.” This is a view shared by year 12 student Chloe Buck, who rather than feeling ostracised by her predominantly male classmates, believes that she is treated as an equal among her contemporaries: “You get to know people here in a way that I haven’t experienced elsewhere. Year 12 is one big happy family and that’s amazing as we’ve only been here for a short time.”

“The college aims to enlist more female students and to make those who are already at the college ambassadors to help achieve this” ABOVE, LEFT AND RIGHT: A-level and BTec courses on offer inlcude ICT, business skills, product design and engineering.

Buck has a work placement at office design and refurbishment company, RAP Interiors. “I’m really excited about it,” she says. The college aims to enlist more female students and plans to make those who are already at the college ambassadors to help achieve this. Dr Karon Buck, principal of the Medway UTC, explains why the different educational route is important for the area: “Our mantra is that ‘every day is an interview’. Together we are developing our student’s habits of mind – motivation, self-awareness, empathy, resilience, positive relationships and self-regulation, so that Medway UTC students will have the employability skills absent from so many young people when they leave school, college or even university.” Located near the UTC, there are other options: MidKent College – which offers apprenticeships with employers


[ employment, training and skills ]

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in Medway – and the University of Greenwich. Sixth form students at the UTC have automatic conditional offers there once they complete their course. Many students will choose to go down the apprenticeship route though – something which is a high priority for Medway Council with its aim of supporting young people and helping businesses to grow. The Medway “100 in 100” campaign was introduced in 2010 with the objective of creating 100 apprenticeships in 100 days. This was achieved and the council has continued to support this project with £100,000 funding per year. In March this year the council, together with MidKent College and the Medway Education Business Partnership, relaunched the initiative as Medway 100. In the period running until October 2015, 105 positions were brought into existence. Positions have been created at a variety of organisations such as consultancy Smart Design, the A2 Insurance Centre in Gillingham and a company which designs frameless glass sliding doors. Councillor Jane Chitty, portfolio holder for planning, economic growth and regulation spoke about the importance of apprenticeships at a Manufacturing and Engineering Expo at the Kent Showground in Detling on 7 October, attended by more than 2,000 delegates, with around 200 stands exhibited. Chitty says: “Apprenticeships have seen a renaissance since the start of the economic downturn in 2008. In the current period between 2014 and 2015, 2,710 apprenticeships have been created in the Medway area. “The youth unemployment figure for October 2011 for Medway was 2,310 and the latest figure released in August 2015 is 915, which clearly demonstrates that these initiatives continue to help reduce youth unemployment in Medway.” With regeneration projects going on throughout Medway, local employers are keen to encourage young people with industry skills, as they will benefit from the apprenticeships and training schemes. This enthusiasm is shared by the local authority itself, which is determined to reduce unemployment and offer young people different paths into work. With students at the new UTC experiencing a taste of what the world of work is like, and with people as young as 14 demonstrating ambitions for the future, a new generation of skilled workers in Medway is sure to emerge. M


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[ creative industries ]

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ART ATTACK As Medway’s creative sector undergoes a renaissance, Maria Shahid explores the organisations and venues that are helping to create a legacy of arts and festivals, bringing visitors and residents to the area in their thousands

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he creative industries in Medway are flourishing; festivals such as ArtsFest, a five-day event to celebrate the arts in Chatham, which is in its fourth year; the Medway Studios & Arts Festival, which takes place every July throughout Medway; and Nucleus Arts, the award-winning arts organisation with its roots in Chatham, and is now looking to expand further. “The creative scene in Medway is thriving, extraordinary and wonderful and is making a quite significant contribution to our local economy,” says Dalia Halpern-Matthews, the current director of Nucleus Arts. Founded by the Halpern Charitable Foundation in 2002, with the aim of making art ‘affordable, approachable and accessible’, Halpern-Matthews explains that Nucleus Arts was originally the

brainchild of her father, the late Hilary Halpern, whose dream it was to promote the arts in Medway and Kent. “Back in 2002 there was nothing like this locally. The University of Creative Arts (UCA) was sitting on the hill, producing artists of fantastic quality, but there was nothing to keep them in the local area. Our ethos was to create something to make them want to stay, and also to draw artists to the area from London.” Hilary Halpern was born in Chatham in 1928, and went on to start the international architectural practice, the Halpern Partnership, which was involved in town centre projects across the UK, and became responsible for redeveloping landmark buildings in London. He founded Nucleus Arts after he retired, close to where he grew up. From its modest beginnings on

Chatham High Street, Nucleus Arts has now spread to include the Arts Hub on Chatham Riverside, which features a coffee shop, studios, a co-working community and Doverbrooks bookshop, as well as the Nucleus Arts shop in the centre of Rochester. With the mantra ‘affordability, approachability and accessibility’, Nucleus Arts aims to prove that beautiful, original and unique works of art can be both attainable and affordable, while providing low-cost studio space for artists in order for them to be able to practise their art. Halpern-Matthews is proud of what Nucleus Arts has achieved in the last 13 years. The organisation hosts around 35 exhibitions a year, and has approximately 30 resident artists. “We are creating about five extra studios a year,” she adds.

ABOVE: Artists like Peter Reed, who started painting at age 11, benefit from the low-cost studio space at Nucleus Arts. Reed has been a full-time artist for the past 12 years.

Recent events hosted by Nucleus Arts included ArtsFest in Chatham – a free celebration of creativity in Chatham, which incorporates professional and amateur live music, poetry, dance, comedy, alternative street theatre, film, free workshops and an artisan market. More recently, the Medway Fun Palace took place at Nucleus Arts in early October. The event was part of Fun Palaces 2015, and is a free, nationwide celebration of community “bringing people together with arts and science”. Halpern-Matthews carries on her father’s legacy with great enthusiasm and vigour, and has been a key part of a bigger initiative to create “critical mass”, as she puts it, in the creative industry in Medway. “We have big plans for Medway. The key is not to be blinkered”. M continued overleaf

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ART-FULL With a diverse range of galleries and performance spaces, Medway is gaining a reputation as much for its present day cultural pursuits as its maritime past. And educational establishments such as the University of Creative Arts are ensuring that there is no shortage of artistic talent in the pipeline. We profile a selection of the venues which are helping to shape the creative scene in Medway.

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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Exhibition space, workshops and contemporary visual art at the Rochester Art Gallery and Craft Case.

SUN PIER HOUSE In Chatham, Sun Pier House is an inspiring art venue and team room with riverside studios and shared office space for local businesses and talent. Located in a former bank at the historic Sun Pier, the Community Interest Company, was formed in 2012 to support and promote the best of the area’s talent, providing a base for established and startup businesses in the creative sector.

ROCHESTER ART GALLERY AND CRAFT CASE Rochester Art Gallery and Craft Case features a changing programme of challenging and exciting contemporary visual art. It hosts five to six exhibitions a year to showcase the work of local, regional and international artists in disciplines such as fine art and craft to digital media, performance art and film. For all exhibitions, Rochester Art Gallery organises workshops and educational activities, often free, led by featured artists. An exhibition, which ran until mid-November was Anima, featuring the work of artist, Dan Perfect (below, centre), whose contemporary works ‘evoke a natural world bound up with technology; bold brush marks and sinewy flashes of neon dart across fluid, spacious backgrounds, while nascent figures, masks and beasts emerge as if summoned from some primal formlessness’. Also on display is the sculpture of Tommaso Corvi-Mora, marking the first presentation of the Heads series.


[ creative industries ]

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LV21 LV21 is a historic, 40-metre steel-hulled lightship transformed into a floating art space and performance facility. It is run by ‘creative consultants and practitioners’, working with a broad range of clients and partners, and designed to provide a variety of services promoting and supporting the creative industries in the Medway area and beyond, while celebrating and honouring the maritime traditions of the vessel. An aim of the LV21 project is to help rejuvenate the Medway riverfront and improve the public realm, bringing new life to what was once a busy commercial thoroughfare. Earlier in 2015, LV21 was commissioned by Berkeley Homes to create large-scale artwork for perforated metal panels screening a car park in

ABOVE AND RIGHT: The LV21 is a historic lightship run by creatives, that provides a floating arts space and performance facility.

Victory Pier, an eight hectare, mixed-use regeneration project that overlooks the river. The 70-metre long panelling will form an integral part of the building. LV21 is currently collaborating with Medway-based visual artist, Wendy Daws, with the aim of developing artwork that “encourages people to investigate the multi-layered landscape and extensive views at Victory Pier”. The theme for the designs is the nature and ecology that connects the development to this important part of the Medway Estuary. Berkeley Homes, together with LV21, are now encouraging stakeholders and residents to take part in the creative process to develop the designs for the artwork.


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THE UNIVERSITY FOR THE CREATIVE ARTS The University for the Creative Arts (UCA) plays an integral part in the local creative scene. The individual colleges making up the UCA have existed since Victorian times, and after a series of mergers, the UCA achieved full university status in 2008. The appointment of fashion designer, Zandra Rhodes, an alumnus of the UCA, completed this process in 2010. Rhodes studied printed textile design at the Medway College of Art (now UCA Rochester), Located in the ‘heart of Medway’, the Rochester campus is home to some of the most creative people in the country. Arts events are held regularly at UCA Rochester and the academic focus centres on building experience and preparation for the highly competitive creative arts professions. The UCA is part of a network of creative industries that contribute to Rochester’s growing reputation as a city of culture, learning and new technologies. Mark Little was appointed as executive dean, in the faculty of fashion, architecture and design in 2012. He explains that the students at the UCA are very involved in the local creative scene. “The Medway Photo Festival, which took place in January, is a great example of that,” he explains. The festival presents an opportunity to turn the UCA’s four locations in Medway into exhibition space for MA and BA second year students studying photography at UCA Rochester. “We have had a new management team in place at the UCA for the last few years, and we’re eager to turn our campuses into more of a community space,” adds Little. “As part of that we are halfway through redeveloping our gallery in Rochester, opening up the first floor as a curatorial space to be used by the students as well as to be available to the surrounding community as a pop-up space”.

TOP, ABOVE AND RIGHT: Regular exhibitions and events take place at the University for the Creative Arts’ Rochester campus, including the Medway Photo Festival.


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MAPPING MEDWAY Strood Riverside page 27

Watermill Wharf page 27

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A bird’s eye view of the projects in the offing, under way and delivered in Medway

IT COULD ALL GO WRONG

Peters Village, Medway Valley page 28

London

Rail station improvements page 30


[ site map ]

Rochester Riverside

page 29

25

MEDWAY 1

page 28

Chatham Waters

Victory Pier page 26

Medway


Victory Pier

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Late September saw the launch of Peninsula Quay, the latest phase of apartments at Berkeley Homes’ 10.5-ha Victory Pier development, on the banks of the River Medway. Homes start at £140,000 for a studio apartment and are 15 minutes walk from Gillingham railway station, which has 12 trains per hour running into central London at peak times, with journey times from as little as 46 minutes. An 80-bedroom Premier Inn opened at the scheme earlier in the year, which is forecast to contribute over £5 million to the local economy. Amenities already available at Victory Pier include a hotel, restaurant, shops, residents’ gym and Wi-Fi lounge. A selection of bars and restaurants is also due to open at the site. In addition to having the River Medway as a backdrop, residents of Peninsula Quay also have access to a private landscaped garden.


[ projects ] Strood Riverside

In 2014, Medway Council was awarded ÂŁ4 million from the Public Works Loan Board to undertake flood mitigation works at Strood Riverside to bring the site forward for development. Work to complete an optioneering study to determine the most appropriate flood mitigation solution has been completed, and officers are now identifying the best way to bring forward the site for redevelopment, taking into account both environmental and wider regeneration considerations. A preferred way forward will be recommended in the next few months.

Watermill Wharf

Medway Council has been awarded ÂŁ600,000 from the Coastal Communities Fund which will be used to deliver small and medium-sized workspace at Watermill Wharf in Strood. The proposals for the construction are progressing well and will be the subject of a planning application, which was due to be submitted as Medway1 went to press. The workspace will be a satellite of the Innovation Centre Medway (ICM), utilising the expertise,

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established management mechanisms and broadband infrastructure available at the ICM to ensure success. Furthermore, work is under way to prepare for the procurement of a design and build contractor to deliver the proposals. The opportunity will be advertised before the end of 2015 via the Kent Business Portal. The majority of the funding for the project is time limited and as such, the workspace will be delivered by March 2017.

continued overleaf

Âť


Peters Village, Medway Valley

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Construction on the first phase of 1,000 homes on the east bank of the River Medway at Peters Village, a Trenport Investments development, is due to start imminently. Following the grant of planning permission for 152 homes, Bellway has been appointed as housing developer and will be starting work in the next couple of months, with the first homes to be ready by spring 2016. Planning permission has also been granted for phase two of the development, for 157 more properties, and Trenport is currently in discussions with the housebuilder to be appointed on the site. Trenport’s long-term ambition for this brownfield site, which was formerly occupied by Peters Lime and Cement Works, is to create a new community close to the villages of Wouldham, Burham and Eccles. Peters Village will include a community centre, school and playing fields, as well as traffic upgrades, plus a new road and rail bridge over the River Medway. The development is currently on schedule to open in August 2016.

Trenport managing director, Tony Parson, told Medway1: “The whole scheme is right on schedule and we are particularly pleased with progress on the bridge.” At least a quarter of the 1,000 new properties will also be affordable homes. The project’s £50 million funding includes £19.5 million from the government’s Local Infrastructure Fund administered by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).

Rochester Riverside

Medway Council has shortlisted two developers, Barratt and Countryside, to transform the Rochester Riverside site into a flagship regeneration project for the Medway area. The 30-ha Rochester Riverside scheme is a mixed-use development including up to 1,400 homes fronting the River Medway. As well as houses and flats, the development will include public open spaces, a riverside walk, a new primary school, hotel, office space, shops and restaurants. Medway Council and its partner, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), have already invested £90 million in preparing the site by constructing a new river wall and flood defences to ensure it is ready for development. Five developers originally expressed interest in the site. Barratt and Countryside will now submit

design proposals to Medway Council. The successful developer will then be announced in March 2016. The relocation of Rochester station is a key part of the development, with the new £26 million state-ofthe-art rail station due to open on 13 December 2015. It will feature longer platforms, so that 12-car trains will call at Rochester for the first time. Commuters and visitors will benefit from an additional 350 seats per peak hour. Next door, a multi-storey car park with 325 spaces for station users is due to open in spring 2016. A subway links the station with the car park, local businesses and the flagship development site at Rochester Riverside. The new station is important to Medway as a whole. Set closer to the heart of the city on Corporation Street, it will help boost local employment, the regeneration of Rochester Riverside, local businesses and tourism.


[ projects ]

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Chatham Waters

The Chatham Waters development represents the extensive regeneration of Chatham Docks. Benefiting from a unique waterfront location on the site of a former historic naval dockyard, with views across the Medway Estuary, it is located just 40 minutes from central London. The Medway University Technical College (UTC) for 14–19 year olds opened in September 2015. The UTC is sponsored by the University of

Greenwich, BAE Systems, Delphi and Bouygues UK, and aims to give students the skills they need to go into the construction and technology industries. A 6,782sq m Asda superstore is also now open at the site. This first phase of the development also included a new traffic management system, a lake and extensive tree planting and public realm. These first two developments are the start of a major program regenerating the dockyard to create a new destination

The masterplan also includes the provision of 950 homes, to be delivered over eight years in four phases. All of the planned dwellings will benefit from a waterfront setting and its views. In addition a new commercial hub will include an office, retail and leisure offer. There will also be an exhibition and event space to be known as EventCity. The creation of a Waterfront Boulevard will include a leisure walkway running around the perimeter of Chatham Waters. continued overleaf

Âť


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Stations update

Alongside building a station at Rochester (see Rochester Riverside, page 28), Medway Council is also part-funding a rebuild of Strood station (financed through the Local Growth Fund) the value of which is ÂŁ2.5 million. The remaining funding is coming from Network Rail and Southeastern Trains. The works include the construction of an entirely new main station building, including a ticket hall on the site of the current building. The building will include new in-station facilities and improved accessibility for people with impaired mobility. The station forecourt area will also be remodeled and upgraded to include dedicated disabled access bays, and a much-improved public realm environment. There will also be a new lift and a redesigned footbridge, as well as a new layout for the car park area. Chatham station is also seeing

improvements with the aid of £1.4 million of funding from Network Rail, Southeastern Trains and Medway Council. Renovations will include a widening of the access path between the bus stops and station building for easier pedestrian access. The works will also include the addition of lifts from the ticket hall to the platform area as well as complete renovation of the forecourt with improved access for people with impaired mobility. The improvements at Rochester are part of Network Rail’s East Kent signalling programme to improve the reliability of rail services, increase capacity and improve journey times at both Strood and Rainham railway stations. A new platform was also constructed at Rainham to increase the flexibility of railway operations and reduce congestion in Gillingham, and will come into use in spring 2016.


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PACE SETTER Since taking over in May 2015 as leader of Medway Council, Alan Jarrett has made clear his intention to step up the pace of regeneration and accelerate growth. To show how it will be achieved, he invites Siobhán Crozier on a tour of major opportunity sites Photography by David Tothill

W

e meet amid the sleek glass and curves of Chatham Waterfront, in its riverside setting of heritage buildings and mature trees, looking up towards the Great Lines Heritage Park. Chatham’s state-of the-art bus station replaces a dark and miserable public transport hub, where residents often complained of feeling unsafe. Looking away from the park towards the riverside, Councillor Alan Jarrett shares his vision for even greater transformation. “This waterfront site will kickstart the gradual redevelopment


[ regeneration priorities ] LEFT: Chatham Waterfront bus station sits among some of the town’s historic buildings. BELOW: Councillor Alan Jarrett has reviewed plans for the area’s transformation.

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of Chatham. We plan to build about 140 high-quality apartments, with retail and restaurants at ground level. It will be similar to the scheme at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth, with high-quality development that will encourage people with more disposable income into the centre of Chatham.” The design for the original scheme has consent for a hotel but under Jarrett’s leadership of Medway Council, use of part of a prime waterfront site for a hotel is seen as making no sense, when the authority’s objective is to create aspirational, residential developments

that will attract people to live in the town centre, where their spending power will support local businesses and contribute to Chatham’s rising fortunes. Jarrett knows that his council has one opportunity to develop the waterfront and he is determined that the asset will be utilised only for an innovative scheme of genuine quality. A redbrick pumping station dominates the view across the river from the bus station but the addition of a huge screen has created a new focus for the public space. Opera has been shown here and there are plans for live sporting and

cultural events. The screen also promotes the council’s free festivals, concerts and events throughout the year, the programme of the town’s two theatres and other community information. Apart from its theatres, Jarrett explains that Chatham has little night-time economy: “The challenge is how we change that by providing the facilities, building units for high-quality restaurants that can be the genesis for lifting Chatham as a better place.” “Over time, Medway has attracted so much inward investment, and brought the universities here – an enormous »

“We brought in some new people with new ideas; we set some very clear objectives and targets”


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RIGHT: Around 1,400 family homes will be developed at Rochester Riverside, where the new rail station is almost ready to open.

change to Medway. And we’re protecting and enhancing our heritage offer.” Jarrett took over in May from Rodney Chambers who had been leader of Medway since 2000. Chambers remains in Jarrett’s cabinet and the council continues to be run by a Conservative administration. But there is also perceptible change, his officers say, of focus and pace. “We brought in some new people with new ideas; we set some very clear objectives and targets. It’s about being ambitious but realistic,” says Jarrett. Developers considering potential sites want certainty in dealing with local authorities – so what’s to be expected of Medway? “They can expect us to be very focused on what we want to achieve, hard but fair in our negotiations, and we absolutely want to work with people who

will do what they say they’ll do – deliver on time and on budget,” says the leader. “We’ll be flexible and fair with those that work well with us – and we will be very intolerant of those that don’t deliver. There’s no free ride but there is a huge opportunity in Medway, for us and developers and investors to make the most of those opportunities.” Jarrett is well aware of the attributes of Medway’s sites – the borough has desirable assets, not just along its riverfront. It has excellent connectivity with motorway infrastructure and the fast HS1 train service taking only 38 minutes from Chatham to London St Pancras, as well as easy access to markets in London, the south-east and Europe. The council has invested in public realm and further work is planned, with

a place-making project currently being scoped. “We realise the importance of this and will invest a lot more,” he adds. “We’re also looking at how the council is organised, to ensure we have the best structure to deliver against our ambitions. I absolutely agree with the cross-cutting approach, and that’s how I’ve constructed the cabinet. We won’t operate in silos and the best place to set an example is with the cabinet, how the executive operates. We’re in charge of over £500 million in turnover – and we have to be focused.” Jarrett has recently instigated a review of the plans for all the council sites in Chatham, to ensure that any development will realise the full potential of the assets, in line with Medway Council’s objectives for the town. “We started to think about what we can do next and what we can do

in parallel, we don’t do things necessarily sequentially – if we have the capacity, we should bring schemes forward at the same time,” he thinks. “It’s all about pace – delivering against an overall plan will enable us to achieve our regeneration goals for Chatham.” The council has welcomed a new developer’s ideas to do a scheme on a without prejudice basis. “It’s a blank canvas; if we like what they suggest then we’ll go forward, and if not, we’ll do something different,” says Jarrett. “They’ve shown me schemes they’ve undertaken elsewhere, with quite innovative thinking, and they said they can do a similar scheme in Chatham.” Jarrett characterises the authority’s ideal development partner as taking an innovative approach to design. “We’d look


[ regeneration priorities ]

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TOP: Old amid the new, preservation and regeneration – Chatham Memorial Synagogue, one of Medway’s many heritage jewels, celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2015. BELOW: Rochester Airport, already home to BAE Systems, could host up to 1,000 jobs if plans for Rochester Airport Technical Park are given the go-ahead.

“The market has changed so much, we needed a fundamental review at Rochester Riverside ... there’s more demand for aspirational, family housing”

for openness and honesty, alongside the quality of the scheme and a viable financial package. But above all, it’s building a relationship; we can’t put a price on trust.” Next stop on the regeneration tour is a site of massive potential at Rochester Riverside. An early phase delivered social housing, along with a £4.1 million, 72-unit sheltered housing block, where flowerpots and window boxes decorate generous balconies and residents enjoy independent living with additional support and community facilities. A wide expanse of land separates the block from the river, and the vista is soon to change, in line with Jarrett’s vision. “The market has changed so much, we needed a fundamental review at Rochester

Riverside. We scoped the site for about 2,200 units, with a lot of apartments but there’s more demand for aspirational, family housing as opposed to flats, so the eventual build could be around 1,400 homes,” adds Jarrett. The council and the Homes and Communities Agency are working in partnership on the scheme, he explains. “Fast-forward just a few years: there’s a spanking new station, allowing a journey of probably 35 minutes to St Pancras; and new housing of high quality and good design.” Medway’s location is a huge asset, offering investors easy access to a range of markets. “It’s tremendous – links down to the Channel Tunnel, we’ve got the »


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ABOVE AND LEFT: The council will invest £4.4 million at Rochester Airport, with 10ha of land being developed as a business park. The airport will get an all-weather runway and retain a grass runway for vintage aircraft to land.

“There’s no free ride but there is a huge opportunity in Medway for us and developers to make the most of those opportunities” motorway links, we’ve got the rail links, the fast train,” he says. “People can get to Medway from London in not much more than half an hour. And we’re down to the Channel Tunnel links within 35 to 40 minutes. We’re in a superb situation.” From Rochester Riverside, the council leader directs us over to Rochester Airport, a key site in his plans for Medway’s economic growth. The airport’s future has long been debated but Jarrett has patiently promoted a plan offering wins for all partners, which successfully draws the different interests together.

“An airport like this struggles and could never raise the money to invest in its own infrastructure,” he says. “We will give it a long lease and invest £4.4 million upfront, to be repaid from the site. In return, the airport people agree that we will take back part of the site, about 25 acres [10ha] for the business park.” Benefits for the airport will include investment in an all-weather paved runway; the current grass runway cannot operate for four months of the year. “They’ll still be able to have a grass runway at the airport, so that vintage

aircraft like Spitfires can land,” Jarrett adds. A new heritage attraction will draw visitors, with facilities including a restaurant, a business centre, and the Medway Aircraft Preservation Society moving from its ageing huts to the front of the site. “We all get what we want,” says Jarrett, the mastermind behind the solution to this long-running saga. “Politically, we’ll get longevity for the airport, more businesses, the potential for 1,000 jobs, and they get longevity and better facilities.” Jarrett took his airport proposals to a meeting with Greg Clark, secretary of state for communities and local government, and returned with the news that the council would submit a bid for Enterprise Zone status. “This is now the number one priority, on the strength of its case, for the whole of Kent, in our part of the federated LEP,” he adds. As Medway1 went to press, it was announced that Rochester Airport Technology Park has secured Enterprise Zone status as part of the North Kent Innovation Corridor. This will support delivery of 1,000 jobs at the site. “We’ve already got demand, companies have heard about the proposals and want to locate here. BAE Systems is already on the site.” Patience – with resilience – has paid off, Jarrett says. “I’ve always been determined about wanting to make rapid change but also, absolutely determined to stick at something if needed. “The airport has taken seven or eight years; you just don’t make those changes overnight. And in a couple of years’ time, this scene might look very, very different indeed.” Watch this place… M


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[ placemaking ]

SETTING THE PLACE Chatham’s transformation is challenging stereotypes and creating spaces where people want to live, work and play. Lucy Purdy finds out how the council is working with developers to create a destination that residents can be proud of in the heart of Medway

G

etting place branding right has become a hot political issue, but research shows that a distinctive sense of place is crucial to strategic planning. Medway is moulding its offer around heritage assets, natural resources, transport, retail and much more – improving its offer in an authentic and realistic way. This approach is clearly in evidence in Chatham. The town has seen a number of significant regeneration improvements over the last five years, including the installation of a two-way

traffic flow of Chatham town centre and a much-improved bus station. The momentum is now being continued via two funding streams: the Growing Places Fund and the Local Growth Fund (LGF), which total £7 million. Sunny Ee is regeneration manager at Medway Council and says: “My focus is Chatham town centre, which has its own unique challenges and opportunities. The town has a number of assets such as the military history, Great Lines Heritage Park, Fort Amherst, the River Medway, a central location, excellent public transport

links and a diverse retail offer with plenty of room to grow. We want to strengthen these assets and create a place and destination to be proud of in the strategic heart of Medway. “The naval and defence interests around Chatham are important. The £2 million archaeological exploration and heritage regeneration project Command of the Heights is a key opportunity to bring a world-class heritage site to the very doorstep of Chatham and the city centre which is being worked up in our placemaking masterplan and Heritage

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Lottery Fund project.” The Chatham Placemaking masterplan will be a blueprint not only for current capital funding, but also for future rounds, giving the council a clear vision for the town and the ability to respond quickly to further funding opportunities. This work will also be key in steering section 106 discussions with developers. Progress so far has included significant improvements along the river walk from Gun Wharf to the new development beyond Sun Pier, Empire Reach. The continued overleaf

»


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ABOVE AND BELOW: New high quality homes at Horsted Park, by developer Countryside, are helping to transform the area.

Sun Pier Pontoon has been reinstated, enabling access to the town centre for river users, while the footpath on Medway Street has been improved with high quality paving. Next up? Creating a gateway feature to the river and Sun Pier on the junction of Pier Chambers and Medway Street, and also the refurbishment of the pier itself with renewed lighting, benches and repainted metal work. This work will begin this year with completion expected by spring 2016. The regeneration drive in Chatham also includes a mixed-use development site, Chatham Waterfront, which is currently the Medway Street car park. The council is currently negotiating the acquisition of the site with the intention of marketing it for high quality ground floor leisure and restaurant use, with residential space above. “Significant progress has been made,” says Ee. His team works with the Chatham

Town Centre Forum too. Recently, this led to a trial period of free car parking on Fridays at the Brook car park, four days of free parking across all council town centre car parks over Christmas and the planning of seasonal events to attract more shoppers. Efforts seem to be paying off. The Pentagon Centre is enjoying stable footfall figures, bucking the national trend, and four new businesses opened there in the last eight months including national retailers in clothing and perfumery. Two other businesses are fitting out Pentagon retail units and expect to open this year, with “positive ongoing negotiations” with potential retailers on a further two units. “This is clearly a very positive picture in a difficult national climate for shopping centres,” notes Ee. His team is drafting the Chatham Placemaking masterplan, as part of the LGF funding, for public consultation in late 2015. There will also be consultation on the priority areas that the council intends


[ placemaking ] RIGHT AND BELOW: Chatham’s Lower High Street and Chatham Marina have been central to the council’s regeneration plans. BELOW RIGHT: St. Andrews Park by Redrow is one of nine schemes the developer has in Medway.

“We want to create a sense of place and destination to be proud of in the strategic heart of Medway” to improve using LGF funding. A key focus is linking the station to the city centre. LGF funding will be used to improve the station’s forecourt and the pedestrian areas, which will be matched by Network Rail with a £700,000 contribution. Ee says: “The fact that Network Rail is prepared to invest so much in the station is a very positive sign and an indication of the rising status of the area.” Work on the station and on other priority areas is expected to begin in late 2016, and final completion is likely to be in March 2018. The majority of the works are then being planned for completion in autumn 2017. “Because of the preconceptions of Chatham, it is a real challenge, but a positive and exciting one,” Ee says. “We have a chance to make a big difference here and we really want to produce a scheme that works. We are having to challenge stereotypes of Chatham, taking a contemporary spin on Chatham’s history.”

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To this end, included in the masterplan, Kent-based artist Chris Tipping will help create public realm elements to draw out Chatham’s history. A number of schemes are also helping to transform the area. Iain McPherson, managing director of Countryside’s New Homes and Communities South division has enjoyed a relationship with Medway Council going back more than 20 years. Surrounded by open countryside, the developer’s latest scheme, Horsted Park, features homes that take their cue from the rural vernacular of Kent farmsteads. Both this and Countryside’s other major Medway scheme, St Mary’s Island, offer high quality homes, first-class facilities and pleasant green spaces, says McPherson. “The Medway regeneration programme is set to transform the area into a city of 300,000 people over the next 20 years and Countryside has been a part of this plan from the very beginning,” explains McPherson. “It represents an unparalleled regeneration opportunity for the area. Countryside is dedicated to creating places people love and Medway is set to »


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become a new, exciting, linear city, offering up to 16,000 new homes and more than 20,000 jobs.” The developer is currently in discussions with Medway Council about a significant new opportunity in Medway. Gary Clark, operations director at mhs homes is similarly optimistic about Medway’s grand vision. In this financial year, the company is investing £37 million in building new properties across Kent, including in Medway. Clark says: “mhs homes has a 25-year history of providing quality homes for people in Medway, in partnership with the council. Today, we own and manage more than 8,500 homes and have ambitions to own 9,000 homes by 2018. Around one in 12 Medway residents is an mhs homes customer. Over the next three years, we are hoping to build 200 new homes in Medway alone.” In 2016, the company will celebrate the completion of its 1,000th new home in the local area. And, amid high demand for new homes, and ambitious expansion plans, the housebuilder Redrow opened offices on Chatham’s Quayside in July. The 55-strong team at the new office – under the banner of Redrow South East – will oversee developments in Kent, with many more employees based on its housing sites. Chris Lilley, managing director for Redrow Homes South East, says: “The housing market, in Kent in particular, is buoyant. Moving to the new Chatham office is part of our strategy for growth.

“Victory Pier forms part of the major regeneration of Medway’s historic waterfront, overlooking vast swathes of the River Medway”

LEFT AND ABOVE: The fourth apartment building at the Victory Pier development by Berkeley Homes, Peninsula Quay, is currently under construction.

Not only does it mean we’re now closer to our existing sites, but we’re ideally placed to identify land with development potential in Medway and throughout Kent.” Redrow South East currently has nine live developments in the area and hopes to open seven new schemes over the next year. And Berkeley Homes is busy working on the Victory Pier development. Designed by architects PCKO, it forms part of the major regeneration of Medway’s historic waterfront, overlooking vast swathes of the River Medway. Once completed in 2019, it will include 841 homes, 3,797sq m of retail and commercial space, an 80-bed hotel, a 1,100-bed student village and an Extra Care facility. It is being built on brownfield land overlooking the Medway Estuary; and the buildings’ designs draw upon on its rich, local maritime history. The first three residential apartment buildings, The Boathouse, Marina Heights and The Boardwalk, are now complete. The fourth, The Peninsula, is currently under construction. Peninsula Quay, the fifth phase, launched in September. It is easy now to envisage Medway in five or 10 years’ time, but a strong sense of place and positivity has already arrived. M


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MEDWAY BY NUMBERS

£18 MILLION

Total Heritage Lottery Funding awarded to Medway

A snapshot of Medway's population, culture, economy and regeneration initiatives

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44,425 Visitors to Siege 2015 at the Guildhall Museum July to November 2015 Total funding available for the regeneration of Chatham town centre £7 MILLION

35 Number of exhibitions Nucleus Arts hosts every year

£2.5 MILLION Funding for Strood station from Medway Council, Network Rail and Southeastern Trains


188

[ markets ]

students in total joined the University Technical College Chatham in its first year in September 2015

Medway 100:

100 local

£26 million New station to open at Rochester Riverside in December 2015

6,782m Asda superstore opened at Chatham Waters

2

benefit from apprenticeships with Medway businesses with the help of a council pledge of £100,000 to support employers

13,000 Number of visitors to Rochester Castle in August 2015

£214,000 First-stage Heritage Lottery Funding awarded to ‘Command of the Heights’ at Chatham (the restoration of one of Medway’s oldest military sites)

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18–24 year olds

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[ heritage and culture ]

SIEGE THE DAY

RIGHT: Siege 2015 at Rochester Castle marks the 800th anniversary of the siege by King John, and is part of the wider celebrations marking 800 years since the sealing of the Magna Carta.

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MEDWAY 1

With the aid of the Heritage Lottery Fund, Medway Council is celebrating the 800th anniversary of the siege of Rochester Castle in spectacular style, recording an unprecedented number of visitors to its historical attractions, and, as James Cracknell finds out, the festivities are far from over


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ight hundred years ago Rochester Castle was the scene of a medieval siege that decided the fate of the English crown. It began in October 1215, shortly after war had broken out over King John’s failure to abide by Magna Carta, signed in June that year. Rebel barons held the fort against the King, and Rochester became the centre of the struggle between the crown and the surrounding landowners. King John himself led the royal forces, destroying the bridge over the River Medway to prevent the barons receiving reinforcements, using Rochester Cathedral to stable his horses, attacking the castle’s keep, and mining under the south-east tower before setting it on fire using the fat from 40 pigs. The King finally won Rochester Castle back after seven weeks, the largest siege in English history at that time. Fast forward eight centuries to 2015, and a siege of a different kind is taking place in Rochester. To help celebrate its place in history, Medway Council applied for a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), and was awarded £37,700. The money helped pay for Siege 2015 – a series of cultural and historic events centred around Rochester Castle and nearby Guildhall Museum. Councillor Howard Doe, Medway Council’s deputy leader, described Siege 2015 as “a magnificent way for people to learn about the important part that Rochester played in shaping the future of the country”. The 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta has been celebrated around the UK throughout 2015. But in Rochester, there was an opportunity to do something special.

TOP AND LEFT: A series of cultural and historic events, including re-enactments of battles, have taken place on the castle grounds as part of Siege 2015.

Beginning in July, Siege 2015 included open-top bus tours, outdoor film screenings, interactive theatre and siege re-enactments, offering local people and visitors alike the chance to learn about Rochester’s medieval past, castle life, warfare, and the town’s role in history. It has been led by the council’s heritage team, working with local organisations including Strood Academy and the University of the Creative Arts. And according to Simon Lace, Medway’s heritage services manager, it has surpassed expectations. “Siege 2015 has been very successful,” he said. “We’ve had a record number of visitors to Guildhall Museum since it started on 11 July – 44,425 by late November.


[ heritage and culture ] RIGHT: Rochester Cathedral is the second oldest in the country, and played an integral role in the siege.

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“We’ve had a record number of visitors to Guildhall Museum since Siege 2015 started on 11 July – 44,425 by late November” A NEW CULTURAL STRATEGY FOR MEDWAY Medway Council recently committed to a new five-year cultural strategy which aims to further transform the area. Since the first strategy was drawn up in 2009, the council has expanded its range of events and activities. The emphasis of the strategy up until 2019 is to develop schemes that build on Medway’s heritage, such as those at Rochester Cathedral and Guildhall Museum, as well as establishing a ‘cultural quarter’ in Rochester and promoting Medway as a film and TV location. Heritage Lottery Funding (HLF) has been secured for Chatham Dockyard (£8.75 million), Eastgate House (£2 million), and the Huguenot Heritage Centre (£2 million), bringing the total funding for Medway to nearly £18 million.

“In August alone 14,098 people visited the museum, the highest ever total for a single month. Rochester Castle also received record numbers of visitors in August – almost 13,000. “We’ve been running complementary activities at the museum and at the castle too. More than 1,500 children took part in activities at the two sites over the summer holidays this year. “The aims of Siege 2015 were to engage local people and our visitors in activities that would promote a wider understanding of the area’s contribution to the nation’s history.” In granting Medway Council the money to help create Siege 2015, Stuart McLeod, HLF’s head for the south-east »

FROM A GREAT HEIGHT A £2 million archaeological dig that could unearth cannons and other military items from the Seven Years War is set to go ahead in 2017. The excavation and restoration of the historically important Barrier Ditch, a significant part of Chatham Dockyard’s defences, is dubbed ‘Command of the Heights’ and is being led by a partnership between Medway Council and the Fort Amherst Heritage Trust. The ditch was built during the Seven Years War of 1754-1763. The project to excavate it won a first-stage HLF bid for funding of £214,000 that will be used to develop plans for the dig. A further bid is needed to secure the remaining funds for a new public entrance to Fort Amherst, and a sunken amphitheatre performance venue. This project would follow the ongoing ‘Command of the Oceans’ scheme at The Historic Dockyard Chatham, where a series of interactive galleries are set to open by summer 2016, showing how ships such as HMS Victory were built.

DICKENS COUNTRY Charles Dickens spent several years of his childhood growing up in Chatham and this local heritage is celebrated in various ways around Medway. This autumn, a new series of tours have been arranged, called The Dickens Country Experience. The tours start and finish at Guildlhall Museum in Rochester, which boasts the Dickens Discovery Rooms, and also takes in Cobham, Cooling and Higham, where Dickens bought a country retreat in his later years. Led by a fictional rival to Dickens, Elijah Puddlephat, the tours explore some of Dickens’ haunts, houses and many of his literary inspirations. STREET SCENES Every summer a free outdoor arts festival is held across Medway’s towns of Gillingham, Chatham and Rochester. The Fuse Medway Festival takes place in June and plays host to high-quality arts entertainment from local and international performers in comedy, dance, circus, theatre, cabaret and street art. The 2015 programme included shows by the Hip-Hop Shakespeare Company and by Rising Tide, featuring students from The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. THE WESTERN SAMURAI Another famous son of Medway is sailor William Adams. Born in Gillingham in 1564, he survived a shipwreck in Japan and was imprisoned as a pirate. When released he used his knowledge of shipbuilding and helped the Japanese establish a trading link. They later honoured him as a Samurai. Adams is remembered today for his work developing English and Japanese relations, and a festival is held in Gillingham every September to celebrate the legacy of “the Samurai with blue eyes”.


“Siege 2015 enabled us to reach audiences that have previously been hard to reach on a scale that is only possible when partnerships are created”

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region, said: “This project adds a vivid new dimension to the conflict between King John and the barons. It also provides the whole community with opportunities to become involved in celebrating a period in history that helped lay the foundation for our democracy.” With so many visitors laying siege to Rochester throughout the summer and beyond, and learning about the history of their town, the money invested has been well spent. Lace continued: “The project was geared towards involving our communities. We worked with a secondary school and local university, as well as community groups, to develop different parts of the offer. “One of the highlights for me was to have our exhibition opened by TV historian Dr Marc Morris and introduce him to Kayleigh Piper, a third-year student at the UCA’s film and theatre design course, who made the model of the castle which is the key feature of the exhibition.” Other highlights of Siege 2015 included a medieval walking trail, as a reminder that Rochester was a bustling city 800 years ago. There was also an open-top bus tour with a Horrible Histories theme. Warfare demos at the castle in August saw a 6.4-metre trebuchet, archery, men-at-arms and a living history tent display. A series of re-enactments –

“Medieval Moments” – were staged at Rochester Castle Gardens in September, giving visitors the chance to interact with and learn about figures from the past. To help appeal to children, two storytelling characters were created, Norman the Knight and Grunt the Pig. The Friends of Guildhall Museum also arranged a series of lectures to take place, covering topics such as siege warfare, King John, the Magna Carta, and how Rochester Castle was built. Among the guest speakers were TV presenter Dr Marc Morris, the Magna Carta Trust’s deputy chairman Sir Robert Worcester, the museum’s education officer Jeremy Clarke, and Richard Dunn from the Royal Engineers Museum. The Siege 2015 programme culminated with a “Siege Spectacular” showpiece event at Rochester Castle in October, described as “part pyrotechnic display, part living history drama and part digital display”. Performances used live action, special effects and film projection to bring to life the events of 1215. Like many Siege 2015 activities, it was free to attend. Richard Hicks, Medway Council’s newly appointed director of regeneration, community and culture, praised the events programme. He said: “Siege 2015 has enabled us to reach audiences that previously have been hard to reach and on a scale that is only possible when

ABOVE AND ABOVE RIGHT: The Guildhall Museum and the Magna Carta, displayed at the cathedral (right), played an integral part in Siege 2015.


[ heritage and culture ]

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partnerships are created. It has given a new lease of life to the portrayal of the Siege at the Guildhall Museum as well as linking up the medieval sites of Rochester. “The culmination of this activity was the Siege Spectacular, a re-enactment and son et lumiere extravaganza, bringing the siege to life for a wide range of audiences.” PUTTING MEDWAY IN CONTEXTUS Medway’s connection to Magna Carta, and British history, goes beyond the 1215 siege. A 12th century manuscript, Textus Roffensis, was written in Rochester almost 100 years earlier. It is the first code of English law and a document said to have inspired the creation of Magna Carta. The only existing copy is cared for by the council at the Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre in Strood. But to coincide with the anniversary of the siege, both the Textus Roffensis and the Magna Carta itself have been on display at Rochester Cathedral. Part of the wider Magna Carta trail, the cathedral has welcomed significant numbers of visitors to see the two historic documents. In 2016, there are plans to put Textus Roffensis on permanent display as part of Rochester Cathedral’s £5 million ‘Hidden Treasures, Fresh Expressions’ project.

Community engagement officer Michelle Lees explained: “Visit Kent approached us because of Rochester’s significance to 1215. They wanted to set up an interpretation centre and access for their copy of Magna Carta, alongside Textus Roffensis, because King John had used Rochester Cathedral as his base during the siege. “Textus Roffensis isn’t any old book – it contains all the important charters and documents that were kept by the monks living there in the 11th and 12th centuries.” Lees adds: “It includes the one known copy of King Ethelbert’s Laws of Kent from the seventh century and a copy of King Henry I’s Charter of Liberties, two very significant documents, but it has never really been on proper display before. “From next spring we will display it here permanently. We made a bid to HLF to create an exhibition space and open up the cathedral’s Norman crypt. “Any historical document needs to be kept in a very unique environment to preserve it and it hadn’t been possible to open this up to the public before, but HLF granted us £3.5 million and gave us the opportunity to create the right environment that we needed,” she says. Rochester Cathedral is the second oldest in the country and has been a centre for Christian prayer for over 1,400 years. Plans to display the Textus Roffensis

TOP: There are plans to put the Textus Roffensis on permanent display at the cathedral, which was King John’s base during the siege of 1215.

there will give people even more reason to visit. HLF describes Textus Roffensis as “the jewel in the crown of an imaginative and dynamic treasury” at the cathedral. Together with £1.3 millon already raised by the cathedral’s development trust, the money will be spent on creating a space to display its historic archives and to make the whole building wheelchair accessible. Repairs to the roof of the 17th century cathedral library are also being made. The renovation works mean that Rochester’s rich history will finally be given the prominence it deserves, making the cathedral one of the most visited in Kent. Lees says: “Siege 2015 is the only time Textus Roffensis will be on display alongside Magna Carta. We are expecting a few thousand visitors.” M


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[ made in medway ]

LIVE WIRED

Medway’s support for innovative technology companies made it the ideal location for Icomera, one of the biggest providers of Wi-Fi on public transport in the UK, as James Wood reports

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ot so long ago, connecting to a Wi-Fi service on public transport was considered something of a novelty, but with people’s ever-increasing reliance on the internet for both work and social pursuits, accessing the world wide web while in transit is soon likely to become something that is generally expected. Icomera, which has been based in Chatham for five years, has successfully provided Wi-Fi for passengers on public transport in different countries for 16 years. Founded in 1999 by four graduates

from the Chalmers Institute of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden, Icomera designs and engineers technology systems for a wide range of transport. Passengers on trains, buses, coaches, trams and even boats are able to use Icomera’s Wi-Fi services. The company also offers technology for train operators to improve communication, allowing passengers to access digital information about potential journey problems, available seats and arrival and departure times to name a few. The technology has been designed to withstand extreme environments, “from hot and humid

deserts to cold and icy tundra”. Icomera first provided its services on high-speed trains in 2001 and soon after, won the contract to develop software for SJ, the state-owned rail operator in Sweden. In 2004, Icomera set up its UK operations, with an installation for the then operator of the East Coast Mainline franchise, now Virgin Trains East Coast, as well as setting up a base at the Kent Science Park in Sittingbourne. In 2010, the company relocated to the Innovation Centre Medway (ICM). Dave Palmer, senior vice president of sales and business development, says this move

ABOVE: Passengers on trains, buses, coaches, trams and even boats are able to use Icomera’s Wi-Fi services.

continued overleaf

»


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“We have invested heavily in local talent ... Staying in the area has helped us retain 100% of our Medway-based staff” was an important part of the company’s development: “We were looking for a facility with more flexible meeting space and more managed services in a location with great transport links. The facility looked great, it had only been open a few months and was filling up fast. “We found that the ICM offered a whole host of services we could benefit from – a staffed reception, phone answering service, postal services, photocopying, laminating: the list goes on. These were all services that a small developing business – which we were at this point – really benefited from.” The ICM’s links with local universities also help the businesses based there to attract skilled employees to it. As for Icomera, it has now moved again, after a period of growth which Palmer calls the “most successful in the company’s history”. Following on from the company’s growing success, there were clearly plenty of options for places to move to, but Icomera has remained in the Medway area, moving in August 2015 to Victory House in Chatham Maritime. Palmer explains: “In our time here we have invested heavily in local talent, who as individuals have developed to become leading authorities on mobile internet connectivity technology in national and international forums. Staying in the area has helped us retain 100% of our Medway-based staff. “We also feel we’ve been accepted

into the local community and formed strong ties here, both professionally and personally. The good transport links that initially attracted us to the area with the ICM move were another reason for staying in Medway.” When starting out in the UK, Icomera only employed a handful of people, but in the last 11 years the company has built its workforce to more than 50. Thirty to 35 of its UK employees spend most of their time in Medway, with others at a second office in Dunfermline, set up to service clients in Scotland and the north of England. Icomera’s client list is extensive. Rail operators it serves include Abellio ScotRail, Grand Central, First Hull Trains, Chiltern Railways, Great Western Railway (formerly First Great Western), Northern Rail, Abellio Greater Anglia and the Stansted Express. It also works with major UK coach and bus operators, transport authorities and manufacturers, including the likes of Stagecoach, First Group, Transport for Edinburgh, Alexander Dennis and Wrightbus, as well as many smaller services. Icomera is currently trialling the very first 4G-enabled Wi-Fi service for First Hull Trains, and plans to continue growing the business by developing its mobile internet technology. The same connection that provides Wi-Fi can also be used for so-called “infotainment” apps, where passengers can access TV, films, games and audiobooks on their phones.

The internet connection will also help operators develop their CCTV to improve safety and fleet management, which in turn will improve operational efficiency. Palmer says: “Ultimately we want to deliver a better public transport experience for passengers. We believe this is key to realising the vision of a future society that is safer, more efficient and more environmentally friendly, ultimately improving the economic and social quality of the population.” Icomera’s success story is an example of the calibre of companies experiencing real growth in Medway. Facilities such as the ICM are fulfilling their role in providing the space, resources and expertise to help nascent technology businesses to grow and then move on once they are ready, and Medway is fast becoming the destination of choice for those plugged into new and innovative ways of developing technology with real public demand. M

TOP: Icomera is currently trialling the very first 4G-enabled Wi-Fi for First Hull Trains, and plans to continue growing the business by developing its mobile internet technology. ABOVE: Icomera also works with major UK coach and bus operators as well as smaller services.


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MEDWAY 1

ISSUE 9 2015 medway making history

medway making history winter 2015

9

Skill building University Technical College breeds success Artistic license Creative talent thrives in Medway Pride of place Chatham’s designs for living Rich heritage 800 years of history

Medway1 #9  

News and developments from Medway.

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