MAP is a partnership of local organizations, businesses, local authorities and individuals who want to promote the Malling area so that there is more on offer to everyone: Particularly to develop the retail and hospitality offer in the town and surrounding area, to attract more visitors to the area, to co-ordinate existing and develop new events for local people and visitors, to improve community communications, to ensure there is more for young people to do, to improve community safety and to improve the environment for the future.
MAP has completed this Action Plan so that we can ask for a minimum of £45,000 funding from the Kent Rural Towns programme to deliver on the priorities – so the next stage is to form an Action Plan Steering Group to help the community to work together, first to find another £45k in grants or contributions, then to deliver the projects. There are some projects that do not qualify for Kent Rural Towns funding – these will be supported by MAP but other funding sources will be found.
The Action Plan is based on a 6 month period to plan the projects and win funding for them, the projects themselves will start to deliver from February 2009 and complete in December 2011.
The Malling Action Partnership came together to complete a Market Town Health Check and Action Plan in order to identify projects that may qualify for funding from the Kent Rural Towns Programme. The process started in 2006 and has now completed with the agreement of the Action Plan contained in this document.
Description of West Malling and its surrounding area Edit
West Malling is an historic mediaeval market town based in West Kent, with a hinterland consisting of the parishes of Addington; Birling; East Malling; Kings Hill; Larkfield; Leybourne; Mereworth; Offham; Ryarsh; Trottiscliffe.
The area is unusual in that East Malling, Larkfield and Kings Hill are substantial communities with their own shops and facilities – however they provide the main commercial and industrial estates, leaving West Malling as a traditional market town offering retail shops, services and hospitality to the surrounding area. There are more than 500 businesses in the Malling area.
The parishes are within the Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council (offices at Kings Hill). The town is actually closer to Maidstone, County Town of Kent, than to Tonbridge; however both are substantial centres within easy reach of West Malling.
There were 24,000 inhabitants of the area as at the 2001 Census, however there has been and continues to be substantial house building since then, so the population is growing.
The area has more young people and fewer elderly people than average in the South East. There are 9,386 households in the area:
House prices are higher than average as this is an attractive rural area accessible to employment in London, and higher income opportunities in West Kent. This does lead to concerns that local people will be unable to afford to live in their own area as they settle with their families; however there is provision for affordable housing in the area and this is being reviewed.
The town is well served by services, public transport and has an active local community. It has parks, open spaces and is protected from development. It has many sports and leisure clubs as well as regular events that attract visitors to the town.
There are fewer activities available for young people in the town.
The area has low levels of crime; however there are four areas where the local community is concerned about safety – speeding, illegal parking, occasional anti social behaviour outside public houses, bogus callers attempting to deceive or rob the elderly.
The general view is that West Malling is a very pleasant town and the Malling area a good place to live, work and visit; however there are some critical issues that concern the local community
- Maintaining the character of the Market Town and the villages– there has been a 13% loss of retail shops to service or hospitality businesses in the town over the last 3 years. As people mainly visit the town for specialist shops and top up grocery shopping there are worries that a further change in the balance of retail, services and hospitality will result in West Malling becoming purely a restaurant destination with an eventual loss of the self sufficiency a market town brings to the area.
- Fewer visitors – businesses have seen the number of visitors falling and popular events are bringing in fewer visitors than in the past. If this trend continues the range of products and services on offer in the area will reduce.
- Community Effectiveness – there is not enough two way communication between the community and local authorities to enable people to influence decision making e.g. parking consultations.
- Parking – there is not enough parking for the number of people who live, work and commute to and from the Malling area. This reduces footfall for businesses, and inconveniences householders who are unable to get out of or into their drives. It also causes problems for buses when people park on Bus Stops.
- Improving the environment for the future – the Malling area has the potential to be a much more environmentally sustainable community, and needs to address some untidy areas that detract from appearance of the town and villages.
- Improving community safety – dealing with speeding, parking problems, anti social behaviour and bogus callers are important to making the Malling area an attractive place to live, work and visit.
- Activities for young people – there is no youth club and a lack of activities for young people in the town, while older people are well provided for.