ISSUE 10 2017 medway making history
Street scenes Chathamâ€™s routes transform Creative collaboration Artistic trails Spirit of enterprise Medway success stories Naval history Marking a rich heritage
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contents issue#10_spring ‘17
MEDWAY 1 Editorial director: Siobhán Crozier Editor: Maria Shahid Assistant editor: James Wood News and digital editor: Marco Cillario Design: Kelly Flood, Kate Harkus Production manager: Chris Hazeldine Business development director: Paul Gussar Business development manager: Harry Seal Office and projects manager: Sue Mapara Subscriptions manager: Simon Maxwell Managing director: Toby Fox
Printed by: Park Communications Cover image: Chatham bus station regeneration by David Tothill Images: FrancisKnight, Kevin Clarkson, Countryside, ©Paul Eccleston Arthouse, MeiLoci, Medway Council, Pentagon Shopping Centre, David Tothill. Benjamin Boardman, Rick Boxall, Matty Graham, James Brittain / jamesbrittain.co.uk, Simon Williams, Rob Young, LDA Design, Chris Tipping, John Stratford flickr. com/john47kent, JBA Consulting ©bptw partnership, Innovation Centre Medway, Network Rail, Medway UTC, Redrow Published by: Sunley House, Bedford Park, Croydon, CR0 2AP 020 7978 6840 For Medway Council
Gun Wharf Dock Road Chatham Kent ME4 4TR 01634 331323 Head of regeneration delivery Sunny Ee email@example.com Subscriptions and feedback: medway1.com © 3Fox International Limited 2017. 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.
A round-up of what’s happening in Medway’s regeneration story.
11 Creative industries
Medway artists opened their doors to the public for nine summer days in 2016.
17 C hatham placemaking
The council is transforming the route from the station to the waterfront, working with artists and residents to create a sense of place.
24 M ap and projects
Development schemes under way and in the pipeline.
34 Enterprise .
How the council is attracting startups and establishing a diverse local economy.
Medway by numbers.
Medway is marking its naval history with a summer of commemoration and celebration.
48 M ade in Medway
A renowned Chatham-based film-maker turns his attention to the town for five specially commissioned films.
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news MEDWAY 1
Homes snapped up at Horsted Park All homes marketed off-plan at a scheme in Chatham have been sold, the developer has said. A spokesperson for Countryside told Medway1 that 56 properties of the second phase at Horsted Park had been purchased since April 2016. This phase of the award-winning scheme includes 202 one and two-bedroom apartments, coach houses and two to four-bedroom houses, along with 63 extra care apartments. A central village green is also being created, with a community events space and cafe, two parks and a circular green walk. The development is currently on phase 2a, consisting of 114 units of one and
two bed-apartments and two, three and four-bedroom homes. All homes can be purchased through the Help to Buy scheme, designed to help people get onto the property ladder. It means homebuyers are entitled to a loan from the government of up to 20% of the value of any home under £600,000. The loan is interest free for the first five years. This reduces the level of deposit required by the buyer to 5% and the mortgage to up to 75%. Phase one of Horsted Park, which delivered 87 units, started in 2012 and was completed at the beginning of 2016. The official launch of the new marketing suite and show apartment took place on 25 March 2017.
Tourism industry records “impressive” growth Medway’s visitor economy grew significantly in the past few years, according to independent research commissioned by Visit Kent. It showed that Medway welcomed 4.6 million visitors in 2015, with day trips rising by 3% to 4.1 million and overnight stays growing by 2.2% to more than 500,000. Jobs supported by tourism rose by 5% to 6,112, with the overall value of the local visitor economy growing to £313 million. Chief executive of Visit Kent, Sandra Matthews-Marsh MBE, said
that the industry’s year-on-year growth in Medway was “impressive”. Councillor Howard Doe, portfolio holder for community services, said: “So many people are discovering what we have to offer: historic castles, great shopping centres, vast green spaces, and wonderful theatres.” He stressed the importance of this year, the 350th anniversary of the Battle of Medway, which is to be commemorated with a programme of events in June (see page 7).
“People are discovering what we offer” Councillor Howard Doe
Chatham heritage funding boost An archaeological exploration and heritage regeneration project is to be implemented in Chatham. In March 2017, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) granted almost £1.8 million for plans lodged by Medway Council and Fort Amherst Heritage Trust. Command of the Heights will see the demolition of Riverside One, which sits within the walls of the Barrier Ditch, built during the Seven Years War (1754-1763).
New public realm will be designed by landscape architect, MeiLoci, overseeing the reopening of the Barrier Bridge and road entrance to the fort and the restoration of the Spur Battery, which will deliver an amphitheatre. “There is a lot to learn about the area’s military and naval history, and through Command of the Heights, we hope to capture the imagination of Medway residents and those from further afield,” said Councillor
Rodney Chambers, Medway Council’s portfolio holder for inward investment, strategic regeneration and partnerships. The plans, already awarded £214,000 by HLF in June 2015, will also involve the creation of a new entrance to Fort Amherst from Chatham town centre, in addition to the restoration of the Spur Battery - the highest part of Chatham within Fort Amherst. The amphitheatre will be used for outdoor performances. The restoration
will also open up more public green space at Great Lines Heritage Park. Works on the project will begin in January 2018 and are expected to be completed by June 2020. The Historic Dockyard Chatham’s Fitted Rigging House project has also received National Lottery support of £4.8 million. The project will see the conversion of a Grade I-listed building into a rental and volunteer centre.
[ news ] Chosen school places granted
“Of 3,174 Medway children who obtained places, 79% have been offered their first preference”
Almost 95.5% of Medway children have been offered one of their preferred places at secondary school, new figures show. Of 3,174 Medway children who obtained places, 79% have been offered their first preference and 12% their second choice. Every child who applied on time has secured a school place, a spokesperson for the council said. Councillor Andrew Mackness, Medway Council’s portfolio holder for children’s services, said: “Finding out which secondary school a child has been placed at is an important and exciting moment for families. I’m pleased many children have been allocated a place at a school they preferred and I wish them the best of luck as they progress with their education.” Councillor Martin Potter, portfolio holder for educational attainment and improvement, added: “The council will continue to support schools to further raise standards and challenge academy trusts and the regional schools commissioner on delivering the best outcomes for our Medway children.”
Medway festivals programme launched A programme of heritage festivals is due to take place in Medway in spring and summer 2017. The English Festival will see Riverside Country Park in Lower Rainham turned into three zoned areas on 22 April. These include the Iconic England zone, with a performance about St George and the Dragon; the Village Square with a new English high street, land train and bandstand entertainment, and the Countryside Experience, featuring
farm animals and a real ale bar. The three-day Sweeps Festival, from 29 April to 1 May in Rochester, will feature music, dancing and entertainment celebrating the time of the year when chimney sweeps could leave the soot behind and have some fun. Also in Rochester, the Dickens Festival, from 9-11 June, will honour one of England’s greatest writers, who lived in Medway for almost 20 years, a place which inspired his works.
The 350th anniversary of The Battle of Medway will be remembered between 8 and 17 June (pages 44-45). This will conclude with Medway in Flames, illustrating events of the battle through water screens, digital projection, performances, special effects and fireworks. On 12 and 13 August, visitors to Rochester Castle will be able to experience life in medieval times at the Medieval Siege Society living history camp during Medieval Merriment.
Pentagon stakes claim for retail boost The ground floor of a shopping centre in Chatham is almost fully let, with the owners now set to turn their attention to the first floor, attracting new occupiers and investing in infrastructure.
Jewellery brand Pandora opened a concept store at the Pentagon Shopping Centre in October, pushing the ground floor towards near full occupation. A new logo was launched in November, and the centre is now carrying out further rebranding, which will include new wayfaring signs before the end of the year. The opening of Pandora followed that of a Deichmann shoe store in the spring, replacing WHSmith. A number of other retailers have extended their existing leases, such as fashion store Blue Inc, while others have taken up more space; JD Sports has expanded from a single to a triple unit. The shopping centre was acquired in 2015 by a joint venture between Ellandi and Bridges Ventures. Ellandi’s asset management director, Alex Brooker, told Medway1 that the company’s aim is to extend the tenant mix. “We want the Pentagon to be a community shopping centre,” he said.
[ news ]
COUNCIL LEADER OUTLINES GROWTH PLANS
ith £4 million of funding for the Chatham Placemaking project, and two successful Local Growth Fund bids amounting to over £8 million, Medway1 spoke to leader of Medway Council, Councillor Alan Jarrett about making the area an even more desirable destination for businesses to lay down their roots. Jarrett said that Chatham is undergoing a “cultural revival”, with big plans to modernise and improve a number of areas between the railway station, bus station and waterfront. He pointed to outline planning permission being granted for 115 homes on Chatham Waterfront, and Command of the Heights, which has secured a £2 million Heritage Lottery Fund award, to go towards a new ditch and public realm, as well as other improvements. Plans are also well developed for
a new marina, and a Grade II-listed church will be subject to a £1.3 million renovation programme. “This is an exciting time for Chatham; the transformation is well underway and has already attracted new shops and restaurants to its retail and leisure offer,” he said. Chatham town centre is not the only place in Medway attracting small and medium enterprises; the Innovation Centre Medway has a long waiting list of startup businesses eager to take up residence there. And the business scene is about to boom with Rochester Airport Technology Park on the horizon, having recently been designated a part of the North Kent Enterprise Zone. Jarrett said: “This has provided a springboard for us to become the destination of choice for businesses in the south-east.”
The council’s ambitions to turn the airport into a multi-use site and attract high-tech businesses are also fast becoming a reality, thanks to two successful Local Growth Fund bids. The most recent was awarded in January 2017 and is worth £3.7 million, with the first valued at £4.4 million. Jarrett said: “The funding will be used to make the site more attractive to potential investors and will help to unlock the land for commercial use. This is an important project, which is going to be crucial to Medway’s growth and economic success. “Medway is set to become an economic location of real significance. We want to be able to offer everything that businesses need to connect to customers, suppliers and markets. These exciting projects are set to create hundreds of jobs and give Medway the chance to establish itself as a centre of excellence.”
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Medway’s creative community is drawing the crowds from all over the south-east thanks to a range of initiatives, as Marco Cillario finds out
edway Open Studios and Arts Festival (MOSAF) turned four in 2016. Studios and exhibition venues from Rochester to Gillingham and from Strood to Chatham opened up for nine summer days to showcase the work of local artists to hundreds of people who came down from all over Kent, Essex, London, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire. More than 100 artists took part and had the chance to sell their work across 19 venues. They ranged from painters to street performers, from photographers to
jewellers and from printmakers to crafters. Visitors were given a map of the organisations taking part, and they could be spotted walking from one venue to the other. “It’s a collaboration between creative enterprises and venues, and the idea is to attract people from outside Medway to see what we do,” says Genevieve Tullberg, gallery and arts engagement manager at Nucleus Arts. Hers is one of the biggest organisations involved. Founded in 2002 by The Halpern Charitable Foundation, with the aim of
providing creatives with affordable studios to develop their talents, Nucleus Arts has quickly grown over the last few years. Today, it includes 47 studios, a gallery, conference spaces, a music studio, a darkroom and a ceramic kiln, across five venues. From the Nucleus Arts Centre on Chatham High Street, where it all began in 2002, it added Nucleus Arts Rochester in 2008. The Creative Riverside Hub opened in Chatham in 2013, and two further venues – Riverside One Music Studios and Heart of the Community at Pentagon Shopping
Centre in Chatham – in 2016 alone. Community engagement manager Natasha Steer has experienced the growth first hand: “I have been at Nucleus Arts for two years and the development is amazing: the sense of community is growing, collaboration is growing. “And what has really changed over the last couple of years is that communication between art organisations has been established.” The University for the Creative Arts (UCA) is one of the organisations that continued overleaf
12 BELOW: INTRA on Rochester High Street includes a printmaking studio.
Nucleus Arts collaborates with. Named among the top 40 UK institutions in The Guardian’s university league table, it has campuses in Rochester, Canterbury, Epsom and Farnham and offers courses in art, design, graphics, fashion, architecture and media. In Rochester, 1,220 students are enrolled, studying subjects including contemporary jewellery, computer animation arts, design for theatre, film and performance, as well as a number of specialist fashion courses. Across four UCA campuses, 94.5% of 2014-15 leavers were in work or study six months after they graduated.
“We are very fortunate that the council has been very supportive in what we do and helped us find new spaces,” continues Steer. “The council has understood the difference arts can make to an area. The regeneration department helped us, which is brilliant, because that’s where we want creativity to be.” Tullberg adds: “MOSAF is a very successful initiative. We had about 100 visitors a day on the first weekend. “People are amazed by the quality and the variety of work within their community. Every day people walk into Nucleus Arts, and they cannot believe it is here in the
middle of Chatham. It’s an enormous resource for artists.” Another major venue regularly taking part in the festival is Sun Pier House, based in Chatham. Including 20 artists’ studios, a top floor gallery, a tearoom and event space, the venue was established by residents Edward Gransden and Heather Burgess. Its birth is directly connected with MOSAF. In 2012, Burgess was looking for a place to host the artists taking part in the newly established festival, and Grandsen knew of a large space available at Sun Pier – a former HSBC bank, which had been
LEFT AND BELOW: Started by the Halpern Charitable Foundation, Nucleus Arts provides creatives with affordable space. It is now spread across five venues.
empty for more than one year and was becoming run down. “The aim was to help regenerate this building and support small startup creative enterprises,” says Grandsen. After a conversation with Medway Council, the site was included in a funding bid for the European Union’s ‘Recreate’ project, which proved to be successful. This funding stream, along with the help of further private funding, ensured that the venue became the focus of the area’s regeneration initiatives. “We were welcomed by the artistic community. Medway has a very strong creative base, and our studios are fully let,” continues Grandsen. Sun Pier House now hosts a whole range of creative artists: from painters to sculptors and photographers. Grandsen believes that there can be challenges in getting the local community involved, although he acknowledges that over the years, the public’s reaction to MOSAF has been positive and the initiative has offered a good chance to make sales. Perhaps one of the strongest endorsements of Medway’s creative side is to be found within a 185sq m
“It’s easy to get lost in the noise in London. The community in Medway is more supportive and engaged”
space on Rochester High Street. INTRA is a multidisciplinary arts venue, which includes a fully equipped printmaking studio that runs courses spanning intaglio printmaking, stencil and relief printing. Arts and crafts equipment is also available to use, as is a workshop space, which can be hired for creative or educational purposes. Its founder and director, Xtina Lamb, moved to Medway from London, where she had a shared printwork space four years ago. “It’s easy to get lost in the noise in London. The community in Medway is more supportive and engaged,” she says. “We can do things here that it’s not possible to do in London. We have access to more affordable facilities, there is a very supportive artistic community, and people are very encouraging about what we do. We can make a lot of stuff happen because of affordability and collaboration.” Lamb took over the Rochester premises in 2013 and INTRA opened to the public in April 2014. It has been part of MOSAF ever since. “In 2016, we had 250 visitors during the festival. We run courses and we have
RIGHT AND BELOW RIGHT: INTRA runs courses ranging from intaglio and stencil to relief printing. BELOW LEFT: Local artist, who Rick Boxall took part in MOSAF, paints in acrylic and oil.
“People are amazed by the quality and the variety of work within their community” specialised art equipment that people can access and artists can use. “It has been very useful for people who need a space to escape their busy lives and be able to stay active, it’s something that really fits into their lives, it’s a safe place where they can come and feel good.” But art in Medway is not just big and established venues – and it is not just Rochester and Chatham. Individual artists have taken part in MOSAF too, turning their homes into studios, which were opened to the public. One of them is Rick Boxall, who has had a passion for the arts since he was a teenager and uses acrylic and oil to paint portraits. He took part in MOSAF for the second time in 2016, opening up his home in Strood to visitors and selling his work.
“In February I quit my former 50-hour-week job in the motor trade and started working 35 hours a week for an organisation closer to home,” Boxall says. “I can now focus more on art, trying to get more people interested in my work and setting up classes for those who want to learn more about my technique.” From Rochester to Gillingham, from Strood to Chatham: affordable studio space, collaboration between venues and educational institutions, along with an increasingly strong artistic community, are encouraging new people to dedicate their lives to the arts. ‘Festival’ is the most appropriate name for the open studios initiative, according to Tullberg. “We have so much talent here, and we have to celebrate that.” M
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[ placemaking ]
FUTURE ROUTES The walk from Chatham station to the town’s Waterfront is the focal point for a new placemaking project in Medway as Maria Shahid finds out MEDWAY 1
ith impressive views of the River Medway, Chatham Waterfront is a natural draw for locals and visitors alike. The Historic Dockyard and the Grade II-listed Gun Wharf are both a short walk away along the river, and Sun Pier has been restored to its former heyday. Medway Council has been awarded £4 million of funding to help regenerate the Chatham area. The plan is to not only make the town a better place to live, play and work, but to establish a great sense of place.
Part of this regeneration has seen the council working with Network Rail on the forecourt of the station, ensuring that the quality and design of the final scheme match the aspirations of the rest of the placemaking project (see box, page 21). In addition to the station work, improvements will be made along Railway Street at New Cut Junction, St John’s Square, Military Square and Military Road. The council ran a public consultation in 2016 on the design plans. This feedback was taken into account in the final detailed design. T. Loughman has been appointed
as contractor, and is starting on-site early in 2017, with a view to completing by March 2018. Public art consultancy FrancisKnight was appointed to work on the placemaking project, and has commissioned a number of artists to help engage the local community. Christopher Tipping, the lead artist, is delivering permanent art works for Chatham town centre as part of the public realm improvements. Three further artists were commissioned to work on a temporary
public art programme, and include writer Rob Young, printmaker Xtina Lamb and film-maker Simon Williams. The latter created a series of shorts to engage the local community, which have been shown on a loop at Chatham bus station’s Big Screen (see pages 48-50). The first is a timelapse of Chatham’s skyline from the University for the Creative Arts (UCA). The second is These Are Our Streets: a collaboration between Williams and Young, which features shots of Chatham continued overleaf
“Residents were asked to reimagine the town and share their story about what the area means to them”
with text superimposed onto local landmarks. Residents were asked to reimagine the town and share their story about what the area means to them. Meanwhile, Railway Street, the third film, provides an in-depth look at one street, with creative public realm ideas as imagined by Lamb. Station to Station is the fourth of the short films and provides a timelapse of the walk from the station to the river, focusing on specific features and areas. A fifth film, released in early December 2016, The Overland Route c/o Thomas Waghorn by Justin Coe sees performance poet, Coe, walking through the project route while reciting the words of his poem – a tongue in cheek ode to the town. Louise Francis is one of the founders and directors of FrancisKnight and says
the films have been very positively received locally. She adds that the aim of the project is to make people look at Chatham differently, and that the appointment of Tipping, who himself wasn’t that familiar with Chatham, allowed a fresh perspective to be brought to it. Lamb has held a series of print workshops at the Pentagon Shopping Centre and at her workshop and business premises, Medway Fine Printmakers, based at the INTRA studio on Rochester High Street. The aim is to encourage the local community to take part in printing techniques with a view to finding themes for the project. In addition to the placemaking project, improvements to Chatham’s retail and
[ placemaking ]
leisure offer is also helping transform the Medway area. Pandora opened a new concept store in the Pentagon in October 2016. The popular jewellery brand is best known for its charm bracelets, which it calls “the ultimate fashion accessory”. Lisa Butler, retail director, says: “We are thrilled to announce the opening of our new store in Chatham. “As a Danish brand aimed at women of all ages, the new store embodies a Scandinavian, feminine design and acts as the perfect setting for our beautiful hand-finished jewellery.” Alex Brooker is asset management director at Ellandi, which purchased the centre in 2015 in a joint venture with Bridges Ventures. He says the intention is to extend the tenant mix: “Our mantra is value and convenience. We want the Pentagon to be a community shopping centre.” In April 2016, a Deichmann shoe store opened, replacing WHSmith, and a number of other retailers have extended their existing leases - such as fashion store, Blue Inc, while others have taken more space - JD Sports has expanded from a single to a triple unit. Brooker says the aim is to invest in the Pentagon’s infrastructure: “The ground floor is now pretty much let, and we’re concentrating our efforts on the first floor.” A new logo was launched in November, and the centre is now carrying out further rebranding, which will include new wayfaring signs in 2017. An array of restaurants have also »
LEFT and BELOW: Part of Chatham’s heritage, the Historic Dockyard is also a major asset to the town, now and for its future. ABOVE: A piece of artwork for the placemaking project.
TIPPING POINT Ramsgate-based Christopher Tipping is lead artist on the placemaking project, and says that following his appointment in 2015 he spent a large amount of time researching the area. “Contextual research is very resonant to what I do. In Chatham I have worked with local archive and history groups, the Diocese of Rochester and carried out street consultation. “Engagement with the public is very important on this type of a project. We wanted to develop a local Chatham voice, and listen to the words they use.” Tipping is charged with the permanent artwork that is intrinsic to the project. “It’s about creating a point of entry to the town from the station by featuring points of interest along the route. The idea is to ease the journey for pedestrians, and to improve their experience.” The permanent artwork will see text sandblasted into granite and embedded into the paving, as well as being waterjet cut into it. This will start at the station entrance and will continue along the entirety of the placemaking route in the same style. “We have been gifted granite by the Dockyard – creating an important historic connection,” says Tipping. “Our aspiration is to bring out the spirit of the Chatham area.”
RIGHT: LDA Design and Project Centre’s concept for St John’s Square. BELOW: The Italian menu with a Maltese influence receives five-star reviews.
moved on site, including Chinese takeaway chain, Chopstix, which opened in late September 2016 onto the High Street adjacent to Coffee Republic. Menashe Sadik, one of the co-founders, says: “Chatham is an ideal location for our Chopstix Noodle Bar as it is a vibrant high street with all the demographics represented that form part of our customer base. “We are excited to be serving the community in Chatham with a fun brand, offering a quick and convenient dining experience for health conscious customers who want to take their food away or sit in and enjoy our tasty meals.” Meanwhile TV Chef Enzo Oliveri, known as The Sicilian Chef, has taken a move away from his home cuisine and opened a new Turkish restaurant at the former Theatre Royal in Chatham High Street. The theatre closed in 1955 and its auditorium has been redeveloped by mhs homes into a scheme known as Theatre Quarter at the Auditorium, which features new homes. Pasha Meze is in the foyer area and on the first floor. Speaking about his newest venture to
KentOnline, Enzo says: “I love Rochester and Chatham. It is such an up-andcoming place, and I loved the look, the ethos and the charisma of the theatre.” Trattoria Marcella, a restaurant serving Italian cuisine with a Maltese twist, also opened on the High Street in late 2015, and regularly receives five-star reviews on TripAdvisor. Clayton Falzon, its owner, explains his decision to open in Chatham: “There wasn’t really anything else around that was similar, so we thought it would be a good location.” In addition to traditional Mediterranean fare, the restaurant serves Maltese specialities including seafood and rabbit dishes. A new JD Wetherspoon also opened in the summer, adding to the town’s growing night-time offer. The pub chain invested £2.2 million in refurbishing The Old Post Office in Chatham, naming the pub after famous local figure and postal pioneer Thomas Waghorn, who is renowned for finding a new shorter shipping route between Britain and India. It specialises in real ales, and serves a range of craft and world beers.
Described by Coe in his poem as the town’s “lifeblood”, the River Medway provides a focal point to the area and the council has been working hard to reconnect the town with the river. Works along Chatham’s river walk were completed in 2015, and included resurfacing, new lighting, a new guardrail and some street furniture and trees. The aim is to provide an uninterrupted river walk from Gun Wharf to Sun Pier. To this end, improvements have also been made to Medway Street and Pier Chambers, which cuts through from the High Street to create a gateway to the river. This has included new trees being planted – as well as lighting, paving and street furniture being installed, with improved CCTV coverage. In addition, a new floating pontoon has been built at Sun Pier, and other improvements have also been made, including the partial replacement of the decking; stripping and repainting of the surface metalwork, and a new lighting scheme to match the works on Pier Chambers and the wider river walk. One of the landmarks that visitors to the town encounter along their journey to »
[ placemaking ]
STATION IMPROVEMENTS Network Rail is designing and delivering the improved forecourt at Chatham station. The outline design has now passed through the Southeastern and Network Rail approval processes, and is ready to be progressed to detailed design. Network Rail intends to finalise the design and appoint a contractor ready to begin on site in July 2017, following the Battle of Medway celebrations in Chatham.
LEFT: Artists and placemakers â€“ Xtina Lamb, Chris Tipping, Simon Williams and Rob Young.
THE BIG DIG An archaeological exploration project at Fort Amherst in Chatham, which was built to defend the town during the battle, will celebrate the area’s heritage. Medway Council and the Fort Amherst Trust have secured almost £1.8 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund towards the Command of the Heights project. The project will include the demolition of Riverside One, which sits within the walls of the historically important Barrier Ditch. This was a critical part of the defences: an unscalable ditch and embankment built during the Seven Years War (1754 – 1763), which divided the military and civilian areas of Chatham. During the restoration process, it is expected that cannons and other military items could be discovered buried beneath the surface. Command of the Heights will also see the creation of a new entrance to Fort Amherst from Chatham town centre as well as the restoration of the Spur Battery, the highest part of Chatham within Fort Amherst once used for troop encampments, siege warfare training and military punishment. This will be transformed into an amphitheatre with seating for outdoor performances, and the restoration of this area will also open up even more public green space at Great Lines Heritage Park. Throughout the project there will be many opportunities to learn about the heritage of Chatham, including the history behind Gun Wharf (Medway Council’s HQ), which was the original location of the Tudor Dockyard. A busy programme of activities will encourage the public to get involved in events such as community archaeology, cataloguing of the large ordnance collection and performances in the amphitheatre.
“It’s about creating a point of entry to the town from the station by featuring points of interest along the project route”
ABOVE: Looking to the future – pupils of St Michael’s RC Primary School in Chatham. LEFT: Chris Tipping, leads a team of artists working on placemaking for Chatham.
the waterfront is St. John’s Church. Located on Railway Street, the imposing building is described by Tipping in his blog variously as “the anchor building” along the project route and as a “jewel in the crown of Chatham’s architectural heritage.” Sir Robert Smirke built the Grade II-listed church in 1820 and was also responsible for the facade and main block of the British Museum. It has been closed since the mid-1990s but now its owner, the Diocese of Rochester, plans to return it to community use. The Church Commissioners awarded the Diocese a grant of £665,000 towards a £1.3 million project, which will establish the church as a place of worship and will fund community projects such as a language cafe, where local people can develop conversational English skills. The Brook Theatre in Chatham is also undergoing a £415,000 restoration, which has included repairs, cleaning of the stonework and roof, and improvements to external lighting. Councillor Howard Doe, in charge of community services, comments to KentOnline: “It is a measure of the council’s commitment to the arts, that such a significant investment is being made and we look forward to seeing the work completed.” With so much happening on the short 10-minute journey from the station, Chatham is clearly on the cusp of a new cultural revival. M
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MAPPING MEDWAY Strood Town Centre page 32
Strood Waterfront page 31
A bird’s eye view of the projects in the offing, under way and delivered in Medway
IT COULD ALL GO WRONG
Watermill Wharf page 29
Chatham Waterfront page 32
Whiffen’s Avenue page 32
[ site map ]
Rochester Airport page 27
E T A E CR ELF UERRS YO E R U T U F BET T A
Check OUT OU R program mes
& A PPLY ONLINE T ODAY
[ projects ]
Planning permission has been secured to deliver much-needed improvements and upgrades to the airport facilities. Another application, turning the grass runways into a single, hard surfaced runway is to be submitted before summer 2017. The intention is for this to free up part of the site for employment use. In February 2017 it was announced that Rochester Airport Technology Park would benefit from an additional £3.7 million injection from the Local Growth Fund (LGF). This second round of funding follows
LGF funding in 2015 of £4.4 million to free up development land at Rochester Airport, underlining the government’s support for this key project. This new funding will go towards the installation of important infrastructure on the site for future business, such as access roads and water and electricity supply, with a view to attracting investors as well as unlocking the site’s commercial value. From 1 April 2017, new business occupiers on site benefit from enterprise zone tax discounts for a five-year period to a maximum value of £275,000.
Medway1 partners group Joining together to support Medway
Countryside Properties Horsted Park enquiries email@example.com Quinn Estates Josh Wilson firstname.lastname@example.org University of Kent email@example.com kent.ac.uk 3Fox International Harry Seal firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about these companies visit medway1.com/partners
[ projects ] Gun Wharf
Medway Council and the Crown Estate are working together to facilitate the delivery of a marina at Gun Wharf in Chatham. Plans for the project could potentially see up to 195 berths installed for vessels exploring the River Medway and the Medway area more widely. Watercraft ranging from 8-20 metres in length could be accommodated at the marina, as well as larger 30 metre boats for special events – this would be subject to the port’s approval. A marina at Gun Wharf would have full tidal access, unique to this area, and is seen by the council as an important part of “activating the riverfront”, increasing connectivity to the waterway and raising the aspiration and perception of the city centre. It is hoped that the marina will spur further regeneration and investment opportunities.
Located on Strood Waterfront, Watermill Wharf is a scheme to regenerate derelict brownfield land adjacent to the railway arches and Rochester Bridge into a workspace for small as well as medium-sized businesses. Medway Council has engaged QED Property to deliver a small, experimental development of 15 business units and 18 storage units, built from cleverly clad recycled shipping containers. The off-site work on the containers
is under way, and work on site is due to complete in April 2017. The funding for this scheme has been provided by the Coastal Communities Fund. A marketing campaign has begun, and it is now being advertised through the website of the Innovation Centre Medway (ICM). The new site will be a satellite of the ICM and is known as the Innovation Studios Strood.
Countryside and The Hyde Group were selected as development partners in March 2016 for the 21-ha mixed-use Rochester Riverside development, by Medway Council and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA). The site will include up to 1,300 homes fronting the River Medway, ranging from detached riverside houses through to one-bedroom apartments. A primary school, 10,033sq m of non-residential floor space and more than four hectares of open space, including parks and play areas, and a 2.5km riverside path, will also be features of the project. Public consultations were held at the end of 2016. Architects bptw and HTA Design are now developing proposals for phase one in collaboration with the council and the HCA.
Further consultations will take place over the next few months, with a planning application due for submission in the summer. The developers showcased the first draft of a masterplan in autumn 2016. Medway Council and the HCA have already invested ÂŁ90 million in preparing the site by constructing a new river wall and flood defences to ensure it is ready for development. A new station square forms a gateway to the scheme; shops and cafes will be located on Coryâ€™s Wharf, and a hotel, bar and restaurant on Blue Crane Point. The project is scheduled to start in 2018, with some infrastructure work beginning in 2017. The scheme will be delivered over the next 10 to 12 years.
[ projects ] Strood Waterfront
The council-owned sites on Canal Road and the old civic centre building together represent a significant brownfield redevelopment opportunity. The sites are currently at risk of river, tidal and surface water flooding, and require protection works before they can be redeveloped, which the council is committed to delivering up front. The total value of the flood risk management works for the two sites is around £10 million. Medway submitted a bid to the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) for Local Growth Fund (LGF) money in 2016 for the flood works on the civic centre site, and was awarded £3.5 million in early 2017. The 6.8-ha Canal Road site, which includes Watermill Gardens, is expected to see construction of at least 500 homes, and the 3.1-ha civic centre site, at least 450. In addition, around 600 jobs are also expected to be created. The intention is to contribute to the council’s aspiration for Medway to become a waterfront university city by 2035. In total £16 million of funding has been invested in the site: £13 million of sustainable communities funding and £3 million from Medway Council. A flood mitigation optioneering study was carried out in 2015, to find the most appropriate and cost effective solution. Balfour Beatty has been engaged to deliver the design and construction of the flood risk mitigation works. In 2016 the council approved the proposals to complete the flood defences for Strood in two phases, which will allow for the development and regeneration of Strood Waterfront, including the civic centre site. Work on both phases is expected to start in 2017, and the target completion date for the whole site is 2019/2020. The masterplan and development brief for the site is also being refreshed. In late 2016, IBI Group was appointed as the council’s urban designer. The previous masterplan was from 2006, and the updated brief should be complete in spring 2017. IBI will work alongside the council, flood defence engineers and property consultants to design viable plans to regenerate and develop the area. They will also consult with local stakeholders. Development partners have yet to be appointed. The council will consider, within the year, how to deliver this site, and will seek development partners in 2018.
Strood Town Centre
Medway Council has secured £9 million from the Local Growth Fund to invest in Strood town centre. The scheme has several aims. For getting around Strood, it will improve journey time and reduce congestion and deliver a safe and attractive environment for pedestrians, cyclists, and those using public transport. The scheme sets out to renew and refresh the public realm and retail environment, and create a feeling of place. Proposals also include shop front improvements and lighting. Further changes to Strood station, working in partnership with Network Rail, are also under way, and are set to be completed in November 2017.
A public consultation took place in 2016, and its outcomes have been taken into account in the final proposals for the scheme. Medway Council is working with
Project Centre to deliver these works, and the detailed design for the proposals has just started. Construction will start in 2017 and be complete by March 2019.
Medway Council is considering options for a 0.49-ha site on Whiffen’s Avenue, which could include 65-85 high quality residential units, set in the context of a heritage site with views across Medway and the river. The site is considered by the council to be in a “high growth” and “highly sustainable” area, with excellent transport links, reached within 10 minutes from Chatham station and five minutes from the central bus station. The development of the site could act as a catalyst for further regeneration in Chatham.
Medway Council has gained outline planning consent for this site, and will be looking for an innovative development partner. High quality, mixed-use development is sought for the city centre waterfront location, which the council believes will act as a driver for more regeneration in the area. The council wants plans to develop the waterfront to complement the Chatham Placemaking project (see pages 17 – 22), and build on the significant improvements to the city centre and river walk.
SITEMATCH LONDON 2017 WAS THE BIGGEST AND BEST EVER. Hereâ€™s what our delegates have to say:
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The next Sitematch London is taking place at 155 Bishopsgate on Thursday 8 February 2018. To find out about booking meetings with local authorities, networking passes and attending briefing sessions contact Josie Brewer email@example.com To attend as a local authority, become an adviser or sponsor contact Paul Gussar firstname.lastname@example.org
PROPERTY | DEVELOPMENT | FINANCE
SHINING A LIGHT ON MEDWAY 1
Medway is making more noise about what it has to offer thanks to a council that is focused on growing local businesses and graduate opportunities. Noella Pio Kivlehan reports
hink Medway, and you’ll come across a melting pot of different towns loaded with history, boasting a grand population of just over 270,000. Traditionally known for manufacturing – the sector represents 7% of Medway business and 19% of gross value added (GVA) - Medway has many other, varied companies; 17,400 in fact. It also has a growing reputation as an entrepreneurial hub, which along with manufacturing, has helped push its economy. In 2008 it was worth £3.8 billion, jumping to £4.7 billion in 2014 - 3% above the national growth rate. And it has students – lots of them. More than 12,000 attend the Universities of Greenwich and Kent, as well as Canterbury Christ Church University. They share a campus at Chatham Maritime, developed in a £120 million scheme, together with the newly opened University Technical College, the University for the Creative Arts, as well as Mid-Kent College – the largest Further Education College in the area, Added to all this is the £1 billion investment by Medway Council, the unitary body formed in 1998, that is helping to open up miles of waterfront, bringing thousands of new homes, retail, leisure and businesses to Medway (see page 38). Being a unitary authority ensures that the council is a one-stop-shop for all local government services, such as planning, transport, economic development and regeneration, making it easier for investors to deliver. Connectivity to the area has also improved massively with the opening in December 2015 of the £26 million Rochester railway station; Strood’s £2.8 million refurbishment and Chatham’s £1.4 million programme to start in summer 2017. All of these positives are changing perceptions of the area, thanks to the efforts of the council, which is developing a diverse local economy that will provide greater choice for the local workforce. Currently, 20% of the local population makes a daily commute to London by train, including the new fast service to St Pancras, making Medway a very popular area for commuters. Tomasz Kozlowski, assistant director for physical and cultural
LEFT: The Innovation Centre Medway, based in Chatham, is a prime example of how the council is working to encourage small businesses.
“The aim is to encourage people to build their businesses and careers in the area as Medway becomes a place to live, work and learn”
regeneration for the council, says: “We are working hard to change perceptions of the area to make Medway a place that people will commute to, as its reputation as an economic hub continues to grow.” The aim is to encourage more people to build their businesses and careers in Medway as it becomes a place to live, work and learn. A prime example of how Medway is supporting and incubating new businesses is the Innovation Centre Medway (ICM), which is based on Maidstone Road, Chatham. Opened in 2009, and spread across 2,787sq m based on three floors, the centre is the brainchild of Councillor Jane Chitty. As portfolio holder for planning, economic growth and regulation at the council, she is widely credited with being a driving force for innovation and change in the area. “Councillor Chitty wanted a place where people could start businesses and develop dreams, then move on to bigger commercial premises – we want people to fly the nest, to be successful,” says Farley Norman, manager at the ICM since 2012. Now home to 50 businesses that
vary from IT to telecoms consultancies, Norman is proud of its achievements. He explains that the ICM is “very close to being 100% full”. He highlights the centre’s strong links to Greenwich University, which gives businesses access to funding, test facilities, collaboration and research opportunities. Norman adds that 95% of the companies that have started at the centre have stayed within the Medway area. And in 2017, the centre will get a younger sibling. “We have a little sister site opening in spring 2017,” says Norman. The Innovation Studios Strood (ISS) at Watermill Wharf is a new development which will have 15 units: eight small and seven large ones. Made out of recycled sea containers, ISS is described by Norman as a ‘unique site’: “We are trying to aim at innovative, creative businesses. There’s been so much investment in recent years by companies here, and that is what we want to show people. We are near Dover, and Gatwick and Heathrow airports, so we are in a great place for expansion and growth.” Medway’s Rochester Airport is also
MEDWAY SUCCESS STORIES Carly Higglesden, director, Cura Energy, and member of the Innovation Board Concept: Cura Energy specifies, installs and maintains energy metering solutions and builds management systems. Established and location: Set up in July 2011, with its headquarters at the Innovation Centre Medway, Cura Energy also has a regional office in Bloxham, used by Higglesden’s business partner and co-founder, Simon Bowe. Employees: Currently 10, providing coverage nationwide, as well as in Ireland. Why Medway: Higglesden says meeting a colleague for coffee at the ICM opened her eyes to the possibility of locating there. “My colleague, who was hotdesking there, showed me around, and I thought, ‘whoa’, for a place that was council-run, it was buzzing. I decided it was the place to be, as it has great accessibility and location, and it is future-proofed for employing people: the centre supports your business as it grows.” As for the area, Higglesden says: “There’s so much entrepreneurial skill in Medway and it’s a shining beacon for other county councils and areas.” Paul Jackson, OBE, chief executive officer, Dovetail The web game Games and chair of the Medway Innovation Board maestro Concept: Creates digital simulation experiences such as driving trains, fishing and flight simulators. Established and location: Set up in 2008 in Guildford, now located at The Observatory, Chatham Maritime. Employees: Started with three, now employs 102 in Chatham, and 20 in Stirling, Scotland. The plan is to double the number of Chatham employees by 2021. Why Medway: Jackson moved the firm from Guildford to his hometown of Chatham. “I worked in many high quality companies around the world, and I wanted to build a similar company in my hometown. I wanted to give something back,” he says. As his own business grows, Jackson says his hope is to encourage like-minded companies to cluster around Dovetail Games – something he says is already starting to happen. He believes that “having a supportive, energetic council” is a big attraction for businesses to come to Medway. Councillor Jane Chitty (portfolio holder for planning, economic growth and regulation), he adds, has been “a real beacon in doing things right. She’s hands on and very supportive”.
LEFT: The Innovation Studios Strood – a spin-off of the ICM – is due to open in spring 2017. ABOVE and FAR LEFT: The UTC focuses on training in construction and engineering.
playing an important part. The council hopes it will create over 1,000 high value, high GVA jobs. In early 2017, Rochester Airport Technology Park was awarded £3.7 million of government funding. Businesses on site will also benefit from it being awarded Enterprise Zone status. Medway is taking off as a place for employment and quality of life. Now it is making more noise about what it has to offer, it will no doubt soon become what Norman describes as “the beacon in Kent”. M
Perry Coppen, founder/director, Tidi-Cable Concept: As a second-year university student, 25-year-old Coppen was on a work placement when he noticed problems The young entrepreneur with cables being potential tripping hazards. This spawned an idea. He designed four types of ‘Tidi’ products: Tidi-Hooks; Tidi-Hangers; Tidi-Patch Grade 1, and Tidi-Patch Grade 2, to keep cables safely away from workers. Established and location: Coppen set up Tidi-Cable in September 2012, taking space on the Medway City Estate, Rochester. Employees: One apprentice and one distributor based in St Helen’s. His plans are to bring on two more people in the next two years. Why Medway: Coppen lives in Medway so says it was a natural choice to stay in the area. Encouraging other companies to consider Medway, Coppen says: “Rent is cheap, there are great employees around, there is a superb industrial estate in the Medway City Estate, great links to London, and of course, there is great help from the council.” From his own personal experience, Coppen says: “The council has been brilliant – they have given me a Partners for Growth loan, as well as a grant for my apprentice.”
FRINGE BENEFITS The statistics for living and working in Medway are impressive. But, as Sunny Ee, head of regeneration delivery for Medway Council, says: “It’s not just economics that makes people want to come to Medway, it’s the quality of the place. It’s about place benefits.” It was in 2004 that the council announced plans to redevelop seven miles of waterfront along the River Medway, as part of the Waterfront Renaissance Strategy. “Now is the river’s time to shine,” says Ee. “It is central to our sense of identity and place, and will be a key part of future regeneration and our university waterfront city.” A strong example is St Mary’s Island, Chatham Maritime. The former brownfield site
is now a mix of residential, retail, leisure and commercial properties. “It has been coming forward for 10 years and has provided access to the river. It is fantastic, now that it’s up and running,” says Ee. He also highlights Temple Waterfront, where there are plans for a mixed-use development with 600 homes. Then there is Rochester Riverside. Plans were set out in 2014 for the next 15 years, which would see 1,262 homes built on the 21-ha site, as well as the creation of open spaces, a riverside walk and other local amenities. But it’s not just about new development. Medway manages significant open spaces, which according to the council are equivalent to 13 Hyde Parks. Three major destinations
combined: Riverside Country Park, Capstone Farm Country Park and Ranscombe Farm Reserve attract around 825,000 visitors a year. Rochester Cathedral is also based in the area. It is England’s second oldest, founded in 604AD and benefits from its links with renowned author Charles Dickens, who lived around Chatham in the early 1800s. A recent feature in the Telegraph notes that: “traditionally the Medway area was overlooked” due to its rural landscape, but low prices and improved rail links were attracting first-time buyers priced out of London. While lower house prices and direct trains might be bringing buyers to Medway, with all that the area has to offer, it’s easy to see why people would stay, and make it their home.
LEFT: The £26 million Rochester station has greatly improved the area’s connectivity. BELOW: University Technical College sixth form students are encouraged to take part in work placements.
LESSONS LEARNED Among the myriad of changes in Medway over the last five years has been the opening of the area’s first university technical college (UTC), which, just over a year in, already has an impressive reputation, despite being only one-and-a half years old. Costing £11.4 million, the Chatham Waters-based facility took in its first batch of 188 year 10 and 12 pupils in September 2015. This academic year, 2016/17, that number has leapt to 400 – well on its way to its capacity of 600 students. “We have had a fantastic first year,” says UTC’s first principal, Dr Karon Buck. “We have had young people from 45 different schools, and we worked really hard in the beginning to build that sense of belonging and community with our 190 students.” The UTC focuses on training in construction and engineering. Pupils take sessions in these disciplines, along with traditional qualifications in
English, science and maths. The aim is to tackle skills shortages in labour intensive industries, and sixth form pupils are encouraged to do work experience placements at construction and engineering companies. These include Medway-based BAE Systems, BAM Construct UK, Bouygues UK and Delphi. Buck says Medway UTC’s public sector partners have all had an input in moulding the UTC’s technical curriculum. “Employers need to be able to recruit able young people qualified in these specialist areas, therefore the UTC students will be in an outstanding position when it comes to future employment,” she explains. Mike Tynan, area construction manager for Redrow Homes (South East), which has its regional headquarters in Chatham, says: “The students who joined us for work experience were really enthusiastic and we’re considering offering some of them further placements to help them develop further skills.”
“While lower house prices and direct trains might be attracting buyers to Medway, with all that the area has to offer, it’s easy to see why they would stay”
MEDWAY BY NUMBERS
Local Growth Fund round three secured:
A snapshot of what Medway offers its population and local businesses
for Strood Civic Centre (part of Strood Riverside)
of Medway children offered their first choice of secondary school in 2017
29,463 homes by 2035 Enterprise Zone status for Rochester Airport Technology Park
£9million from the Local Growth Fund to invest in Strood town centre
£4 MILLION of government funding to regenerate Chatham
84% of schools
Projected population by 2035:
4.6 million visitors to Medway in 2015
Average house price:
£3.7 million injection from the Local Growth Fund in 2017 – a total of £8.1 million since 2015
(Source: Land Registry)
6.8ha Strood Waterfront development expected to create:
are 'good' or 'excellent'
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© 1996 FSC A.C. FSC SUPPLIER TT-COC-1879
[ heritage ]
BLAZING SUMMER In 2017, Medway Council and the Historic Dockyard Chatham will mark 350 years since a historically important battle took place in the region, as James Wood finds out
“An exhibition at the Historic Dockyard will explore the battle through ‘contemporary accounts’ and significant items loaned from museums”
istorians and those with an interest in the United Kingdom’s naval past will come to Medway in June 2017 to commemorate the 350th anniversary of a famous battle. In 1667, Britain was troubled. The Great Plague of 1665, followed by the Great Fire of London the following year, had left King Charles II lacking the financial clout to operate a successful naval fleet. With the British fleet laid up in Medway during the winter of 1666-67, the Dutch military seized an opportunity and launched a successful raid on English battleships in Chatham Dockyard, bringing an end to the second Anglo-Dutch War. Referred to as The Battle of Medway, the attack was one of the worst defeats in the Royal Navy’s history. The Dutch victory in the Medway forced Charles II to enter peace negotiations with The Netherlands, and within a few weeks the two countries came to an agreement. Medway Council now plans to mark this history through a fortnight of displays, one-off exhibitions and VIP visits taking place between 8 and 17 June. Among the events will be a Battle of Medway gallery at Upnor Castle – which was at the epicentre of the battle – supported by a Heritage Lottery Fund grant. The award is split evenly between
[ heritage ]
ABOVE AND LEFT: Art work created by local artist Kevin Clarkson will form a part of the permanent exhibition planned at Upnor Castle.
the council and the Historic Dockyard in Chatham. As well as looking after the exhibition at Upnor Castle, the council’s share will go towards a number of family activities over the summer and a new educational programme. An exhibition at the Historic Dockyard will explore the battle through “contemporary accounts” and significant items loaned from Dutch and UK national museums. The Command of the Oceans
galleries, also at the dockyard, will highlight the major investment in new ships and dockyard facilities, which came about as a result of the battle. The council commissioned artist Kevin Clarkson to depict battle scenes, aiding in the long-term legacy of the commemorations. They will be used within the permanent exhibition. The grand finale event on 17 June 2017, called Medway in Flames, will be held
at the battle site on the River Medway at Chatham overlooked by Upnor Castle and The Historic Dockyard, from which the English fired at Dutch vessels in a bid to stop the onslaught of their ships. Council leader, Councillor Alan Jarrett, says: “It’s important that we remember the history on our door step and we want to welcome visitors to Medway to learn, share and be enthused by a large but often forgotten part of English history.” M
PUTTING MEDWAY O In 2018, Medway Council will be celebrating its 20th anniversary and its journey has so far been quite remarkable. Taking its name from the famous river that runs through the borough, the new council brought together a group of disparate towns and a sizeable rural area and tackled head on a number of challenges that it has turned into opportunities. In just 20 years the council has successfully united the area, promoted its rich heritage and led a highly successful regeneration drive. But this has just been the start of the story. Sitting firmly at the heart of the council’s vision for the next ten years is an ambition to put Medway firmly on the bigger map. Medway is undoubtedly entering an exciting and defining period. Its projected
Medway One DPS SL.indd 2
growth is breathtaking. By 2035 its population is expected to grow to 300,000 with 30,000 new homes being built. The council’s vision is to establish Medway as an exciting waterfront university city – one of the best places to live, work, visit and learn in the country. You don’t have to look far for evidence of how that vision is being brought to life. Building on the factors that make Medway unique, notably compelling investment opportunities and its heritage and sporting legacy, the council is delivering an ambitious programme of culture, tourism and regeneration strategies. The pages in
this magazine highlight just some of the projects transforming the Medway landscape at the moment. Through this programme the council’s objectives are clear - that Medway is deservedly seen as a fantastic place to live and learn, offering excellent education and employment opportunities, great places to live, facilities to enjoy and fast connections to London, Europe and the national motorway network. It wants to attract new and innovative businesses, creating jobs and investment, as well as helping Medway businesses to flourish. Last, but by no means least, the array of worldclass heritage and modern attractions, festivals and events will increasingly make the area a ‘must see’ visitor destination, adding to the four million people who already
visit each year contributing more than £313million to the local economy. So now it’s all about showcasing Medway at every opportunity, raising awareness of what’s on offer and the vision of what’s to come. Not always an easy task in the crowded world of public relations, marketing and social media and where councils and development companies up and down the country compete for attention. The council is confident, however, that the achievements and events will speak for themselves. Earlier this year, Housing Minister Gavin Barwell praised the innovative approach being taken by Medway Council in championing different types of house building across the area to suit different budgets and changing lifestyles.
FAR LEFT: Gillingham Marina MIDDLE: Artist’s impression of new kit house development in Walderslade, Chatham ABOVE: Castle Concerts in the shadow of Rochester Castle
Y ON THE MAP “Medway is leading the way in efforts to improve the housing market nationally” he commented having officially opened Centenary Gardens in Gillingham, one of the largest council-built energy efficient bungalow sites in the UK, created with older tenants and people with mobility problems in mind. The council is also leading the drive to speed up the building of houses to meet growing demand. It has recently welcomed a new generation of kit house communities offering affordable and speedy housing solutions across Medway. The success stories are not just about development opportunities. They are also about making Medway a great place for people. This summer’s Battle of Medway festival will attract thousands of people to Medway from
Medway One DPS SL.indd 3
the region and London to enjoy the large number of free events being staged as part of the ten day commemorations. The council is confident that the numerous exhibitions, sports events, river pageants and spectacular dusk finale will do wonders to show just what Medway has to offer its residents and visitors and is carrying out an intense PR campaign to reinforce those messages. Advocacy will sit at the centre of the council’s drive to put Medway on the map. In a world where word of mouth carries ever more influence, the council wants those who are already
committed to improving Medway to help spread the word. Its approach has always been to drive progress through constructive local partnerships, whether with local businesses, the ever growing secondary and further education sector, health providers or with destination operators. Having all those who are invested in creating a better future for Medway endorsing and speaking out for the area will carry its influence far and wide. The council is equally committed to ensuring that its residents, current and future are involved in the journey
to put Medway on the map. Whether it’s through the constant improvement and innovation in services such as housing, education and roads or through facilities such as world-class sporting venues or 30 days of free festivals each year, or the fact that they still pay the lowest council tax rate in Kent, the council wants to ensure that its residents value and are proud of where they live. So the message is clear – watch this space as Medway has its sights firmly on the future as it accelerates over the coming years to put itself clearly on the map. It’s so much more than just a river.
“The council’s vision is to establish Medway as an exciting waterfront university city – one of the best places to live, work, visit and learn in the country”.
SCENE CHANGE As Medway Council focuses on attracting creative and enterprising talent to Chatham, one successful entrepreneur is already invested in the area. James Wood reports MEDWAY 1
[ made in medway]
hatham-based film-maker Simon Williams has worked with some of the biggest production companies, galleries, fashion labels, artists and bands in the country. Beginning as a freelance photographer for Channel 4’s archaeology programme, Time Team, Williams then produced hundreds of shorts, promos and documentaries during the noughties, including projects for music acts such as Arctic Monkeys – featuring poet John Cooper Clarke – Franz Ferdinand, Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse. Footage Williams shot of the latter performing was used on TV newsreels when she died. The film-maker has also showcased artists such as Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin and David Hockney for the Tate Gallery. It was 2001 when Williams moved to Chatham, a town he discovered and fell in love with on the way back from a short break in Whitstable with his wife. At the time, he was living in London among other artists in Brick Lane, Shoreditch. “The town was very appealing because for me it was a chance to get more space to work and a bit of distance from the capital,” he says. “It was also ideal because it was 35 minutes from the city, 40 from the sea and 10 from the countryside.” After a few months, Williams began to establish a network of friends and contemporaries who also worked in the arts. Among them was Chatham-born Billy Childish, the well-known painter, photographer, artist and musician, who lives nearby and remains a close friend and collaborator today. In the 15 years he has been in the town,
Williams has noted changes in Chatham: “In the past, people here had a tendency to be quite self-deprecating about where they live, but it seems more and more people are following the same path as me and moving from London where they simply can’t afford to be. New creative talent and businesses have brought an energy here in the last few years that I haven’t experienced before.” Williams runs O Production, which he established in 2008 with his brother Ted – then a student at the University of Kent – after winning the Medway Design and Culture award that year. Commissions from some of the biggest cultural organisations in the country in the eight years since are testament to the film-maker’s talent. These include
FAR LEFT: Williams, who manages O Production, outside a Turner Contemporary mural in Margate. TOP: A still from the Chatham Placemaking short. LEFT: With friend and collaborator, Billy Childish (left). ABOVE: Poet John Cooper Clarke, who featured on Williams’ advert for the Arctic Monkeys album, AM.
galleries such as Barbican and Tate Britain, some of the country’s biggest broadcasters – including the BBC and Channel 4 – and leading record labels EMI and Virgin, Williams’ success challenges the ill-founded perception that creative people only triumph in the capital. With an ever-growing portfolio of work, Williams splits his projects into three categories: the big commissions he works on with O, collaborations, as well as solo work. But it is a recent series of films that has allowed Williams to express his feelings about Chatham through his art. This opportunity was provided by FrancisKnight, a public art consultancy which has historic ties with the Medway area, having worked to develop Chatham Vines in 2004, a vineyard of 32 Pinot Noir
vines grown hydroponically in St John’s Church and commissioning artists to install work at Rochester Riverside. Medway Council has now charged FrancisKnight with delivering the creative realm element of the £4 million government-funded Chatham Placemaking project to improve the route from the station to the waterfront. Williams produced five short films, broadcast on a loop on a big screen at Chatham Waterfront, which was installed in 2015 (see details pages 17-18). Railway Street and Military Road are the focus for these shorts. For one idea, phrases relating to changes in the town were superimposed onto street signs and public landmarks, interspersed with time-lapse shots of the roads and river. It was one phrase in particular: ‘these are our streets’, which has been taken on as something of a mantra. As the upgrade of the public realm is implemented, the words will be embedded into the pavement using engraved granite as part of FrancisKnight’s commission. It is a sentiment Williams clearly believes in and through the Chatham Placemaking project, he has learned things about the town he didn’t know
ABOVE: An emphasis on the Chatham community has been a key part of Williams’ videos. RIGHT: The film-maker has worked with world-famous clients. BELOW: Williams has set out to show how Chatham’s creative scene is flourishing.
“Businesses have brought an energy here in the last few years that I haven’t experienced before” before – such as discoveries that Vincent Van Gogh once walked through and that Charles Dickens drew on the Medway towns for some of his greatest works – inspired by both its people and the place. Williams says these are the stories that pique his excitement about Chatham. Evidenced by the increasing presence of new creative startups, Williams believes his hometown is on the up: “Chatham has always had a pulse though,” he says. “But whereas before you had to know where to look, its reputation for innovation and creativity is now really starting to spread.” M
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