Sevenoaks People will Power Our Town’s Recovery
By Tony Clayton
The virtual 'ThinkIn' on March 17, on the future of Sevenoaks town centre, drew over 60 people to share ideas. Retailers, caterers, business owners, town residents and nearby villagers joined local and national experts sharing good ideas to make Sevenoaks 'the best market town for the future'.
- New independent shop, Knobbly Knees in London Road, has shown how Sevenoaks people welcome quality, specialist, retail offers. Owner Amy said town centre pavements need to be better for window shopping, and traffic congestion caused by delivery vehicles must be tackled
- Roger Lee, who co-wrote Sevenoaks in a Time of Change in 2020, emphasised the importance of social space in our town, to encourage locals to sit, stay and meet, and to draw visitors in
- Otto's co-founder Jack outlined his aim to be leader in zero waste catering. This could be a USP for Sevenoaks businesses shown by the example - and fame - of towns in other countries
- Parents called for safer town centre streets, family friendly, where children are protected from speeding traffic and where it is easy to cross from one shop to another
- People now working from home said they already spend more money in Sevenoaks, and outlined the big opportunity for shops, hospitality and service providers to meet their family and business needs
- The importance of education to Sevenoaks economy was stressed, with 5,000 plus secondary students in the town every day, with money to spend and able to make a contribution
- A member of Sevenoaks Business Board called for a vision for how the town will respond to radical change, as more traditional retailing goes online and more people will work locally - either from home or from satellite offices outside London
- A resident of South Park asked for action on air quality, which makes Sevenoaks High Street less attractive to shop and meet in.
It is clear that the next reshaping of Sevenoaks in the 2020s will be different from the last one - when Blighs shopping centre was based on multiple retailers. The future will depend on independent businesses, on creative new offers, and on making town centre space as attractive as we can for people to move around. It's down to local enterprise and local people.
After lively discussion voting is at https://www.allourideas.org/7oaksTownCentre with strong support so far for:
- wider pavements on main streets, easier for pedestrians to use
- making the town centre greener with planters, trees and less traffic
- town centre events to attract people to High Street markets and shopping evenings
- manage traffic to create pedestrian space and banish unnecessary HGVs
- support to encourage independent businesses
- areas to sit, meet and enjoy the town
- encouraging pop-up shops and other businesses to attract people
- action to draw students in local schools to use local businesses
- building our reputation as a zero single-use plastic business community
Just one voter so far thinks Councils have everything under control and don't need to change anything! Join in and add your own ideas.