Detailed work by South Lakeland District Council and Kendal Futures has set out a clear way forward to inspire positive future changes in the town.
SLDC’s Kendal Town Centre Strategy and Kendal Futures’ Kendal Vision, published jointly today, aim to inspire future change and unlock public and private sector investment, creating a more balanced and vibrant town centre. Together, they aim to provide the conditions for more town centre living and working, as well as highlighting the need for more high-quality social spaces and places.
Kendal Future’s Vision, funded by many of the town’s larger employers was driven by a desire to secure the town’s future success and prosperity and meet the needs of their workforce. SLDC’s Town Centre Strategy acknowledges the aspirations identified in the Vision which will influence the council’s plans and policies in the future.
A key objective of SLDC’s Strategy is to shape the town centre, building on existing assets and opportunities to ensure it continues to be an attractive and desirable place to live, work and visit. The strategy identifies character areas and sets out specific objectives around these, also identifying opportunity sites which can provide practical interventions.
Councillor Robin Ashcroft, SLDC’s Portfolio Holder for Economy, Culture and Leisure, said: “The launch of the Kendal Town Centre Strategy and Kendal Futures’ Vision is an important milestone on the journey towards significant positive development in Kendal.
“They will be key tools used to inform council plans and policies to influence development positively and highlight, promote and influence how specific sites of importance develop in the future. Enshrining our aspirations like this will also help secure investment and show that a holistic approach is being followed as we endeavour to promote tangible positive changes in this great town.
“Only by working together can real progress be made and these two documents give a solid basis for this to happen.”
Kendal Futures Vision follows an intensive public participation weekend, where local people were asked to discuss the town’s problems and their dreams and solutions for its future. It’s a call to embrace change, new ideas and innovation for the future benefit of all those who live in the town, work in the town and visit the town.
Martyn Nicholson, Chair of Kendal Futures said: “The Vision was driven by the town’s employers and their need to attract and retain a workforce, who in turn want good quality, affordable homes, better transport links and a vibrant town centre. Kendal is a great town, but like many town’s we face challenges and we need new ideas and more innovative ways of delivering and funding those ideas to ensure our future success. The Vision is just the start and we will welcome the continuing support of other groups and the community to help bring those ideas into reality in the future.”
A series of themes and principles are provided within the Vision to initiate and inform this process of change. Emerging ideas include “greening” the retail heart of the town and creating better linkage and views to the river; improving the public realm and pedestrian spaces; creating better and safer opportunities for cycling; supporting better bus and train services, providing new town centre live and work opportunities and improving key gateways into the town.
Mark Cropper, Vice-Chair of Kendal Futures said: “The Vision is not something to be put in a drawer – it’s a set of ideas and possibilities that will hopefully grow far beyond the document itself and truly transform our town and community. Over the next 10 years we believe it could catalyse up to £1 billion of investment in Kendal. This will seem like a scary amount for some, especially given the town has changed so little over the years. But with all parties public and private continuing to work together and communicate – something Kendal Futures is raising funds to lead on – the benefits will be huge and wide-ranging, whether attracting and retaining more young people, revitalising our high street, or making how we live and move much more sustainable.”
Councillor Susanne Long, who is a member of South Lakeland District and Kendal Town Councils, and is also a member of the Kendal Futures Board, said: “I am delighted to see both the Strategy and the Vision being launched together, demonstrating the commitment SLDC and Kendal Futures have to working together and with all other interested parties and organisations to do all they can to make Kendal the best it can be.
“The voices of our residents, employers and experienced professionals have all been heard and used as evidence to shape the way forward. It is great to see the Vision and the Strategy aligned and supporting each other, paving the way for action to drive forward real change.”
Dovetailing with these developments, Kendal has been chosen as a national pilot location for the newly-formed High Street Task Force and will benefit from expert support and resources in looking to deliver on these aspirations. An “Unlocking your place potential” kick-off session between SLDC, Kendal Futures and other partners, including Kendal Town Council, is scheduled to take place later this month and work will continue into the summer.
The two documents will also help inform South Lakeland’s next Local Plan, with early engagement on this beginning this month, including a stakeholder event and series of public drop-ins.