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Priority Two – Revitalisation of our towns and villages

We want people to love the experience of coming to our towns and villages. The centre of Tunbridge Wells requires a complete overhaul. We also know that Paddock Wood, Cranbrook and Hawkhurst town centres and many other village centres need investment as they grow and house more residents.

Tunbridge Wells Town Hall is a huge building and no longer a good location for a relatively small number of Council staff. They need to be re-located to allow for the repurposing of the building into a mix of smaller, self-contained offices, workshops and shared space with retail and/or food & beverage outlets. The Assembly Hall needs to be redeveloped into a much more flexible space which allows for a 1000+ theatre with more bars, more office space, more dressing-rooms and better backstage access. We do not need to build anything new.

The public has been saying for a long time that a large majority will welcome more pedestrianisation around the centre of our towns. To revitalise the town centres we need people living in them, not for them to be full of polluting traffic.

Labour Councillors will work to:

1. Help businesses recover from the devastating economic impact of the pandemic and build a more resilient local economy.

2. Have a proactive approach to developing eco-tourism as a way of attracting visitors and supporting events which increase footfall into the Borough.

3. Provide practical support for our local cultural, arts, food and drink scene, recognising that this is one of Tunbridge Wells’ biggest assets.

4. Promote investment in towns and village centres throughout the Borough including Paddock Wood, Hawkhurst, Cranbrook and Southborough.

5. Reduce vacant premises by growing the number of new independent retailers.

6. Encourage short term lets for pop-up shops and developing a unique retail offer which draws visitors in and encourages residents to spend in their local area.

7. Work collaboratively to agree a Tunbridge Wells Town Centre Area Plan including the redevelopment of the Town Hall estate including the Assembly Hall.

8. Revitalise pride in our parks and open spaces, making more of them as venues for art, music, culture, sport and leisure.

9. Support the provision of a new market in Tunbridge Wells town centre that is affordable and increases footfall into the town centre.
10.Explore potential sites for a Park and Ride facility and consider post-COVID incentives to shop in Tunbridge Wells such as money off parking vouchers redeemable at retailers.

Labour Councillors believe in vibrant town and village centres. More high-end luxury places to live in the middle of our towns is not the future; very nice for the occupants but where will the people who work in them live and park? We want to reverse this trend. We want to energise the centres of our towns with residents who work locally,
who spend locally, and who contribute locally. That is the future.