Chislehurst Town Team

The Chislehurst Town Team (CTT)                                

The Chislehurst Town Team is a volunteer group doing all we can for the good of our town centre. We came together to try and make our town even better than we know it is already. We love Chislehurst. We know that most of the people who live here do too and that visitors often fall in love with it from the moment they arrive. It’s a great place to live, work and play.

But nowhere is perfect so we are always thinking of new ideas that will make a positive difference and address some of the issues and challenges our town faces.

Some are quite simple to pull off, some take more planning and organisation and some things we choose not to take on, because we are all volunteers, we can only do what we can do.  If you think there’s something new the Town Team could do, or maybe you would like to take responsibility for driving forward a new initiative, we’d love to hear from you

Supporting the vitality of our Town Centre

The Chislehurst Town Team is a volunteer group set up in April 2012, in response to concerns about the future of the High Street in the wake of the Portas Review published in 2011.  Our mission is to help make Chislehurst a thriving, attractive hub for shopping, leisure and work.

The Town Team is made up of volunteers – traders, businesses, landlords, local charities, interest groups, and residents. We care deeply about Chislehurst’s future and want to ensure our wonderful town stays special and meets the challenges it faces in a proactive and innovative way.

We meet regularly to drive forward change and work in very close partnership with the Chislehurst Business Group. Our members offer specific expertise or just simple enthusiasm to contribute to the project. The CTT is supported by our Ward Councillors and by portfolio holders and officers of the London Borough of Bromley.

Other than a small working grant from The Chislehurst Society and a one-off Local Parades Improvement Grant from London Borough of Bromley several years ago, the CTT does not have funding.  Its progress is being achieved by hard work, commitment and drive voluntarily given.  We are achieving real change by leading in a strong, inclusive and authentic way with only one objective – the success of our town.

To date our efforts have been focussed on the High Street and Belmont Parade with some support for the businesses in Royal Parade. 

 

Our Aims

  • Enhance the streetscape, provide for a visitor friendly ‘café culture’ and ensure it remains attractive and vibrant
  • Address the issue of persistently empty properties
  • Try to fill empty units with quality businesses that meet the aspirations and needs of the community
  • Develop initiatives to promote footfall & address the aspects that deter shoppers, visitors, landlords and businesses from the High Street
  • Maintain and enhance the village feel of the High Street, its identity, branding and experience
  • With the Chislehurst Society Traffic portfolio holder, seek to improve traffic flows around the High Street, including the Willow Grove junction
  • Improve and rationalise the parking facilities around the High Street

 

Background

In so many ways Chislehurst is a wonderful place, full of energy and life and with the most beautiful of settings. But it isn’t living up to its full potential. Early in 2012, in the wake of the Mary Portas’ report to the then government on Town Centres, representatives from the Chislehurst Society identified the need for action to keep Chislehurst special.  A questionnaire was sent to its members and 436 responses were received. 

This feedback and support at the subsequent Chislehurst Society AGM in April 2012, confirmed residents were behind this initiative and the CTT was formed.  Alison Stammers was appointed chair.

2012 was the inaugural year for the Chislehurst Town Team and was about marshalling our resources and bringing together Chislehurst’s champions. We collected and analysed the evidence underpinning Chislehurst’s problems and produced our proposals for tackling the issues. We identified ‘quick wins’ and longer-term projects and presented our proposals to portfolio holders and officers at the London Borough of Bromley (LBB).

We identified our vision as follows; – With a unique environment, so close to the commons, Chislehurst has the setting and the amenity to become one of London’s most outstanding destination high streets, combining high quality retail outlets, attractive cafés and restaurants, and diverse and interesting foodshops.

Since 2012, we have been working closely with LBB and with the Chislehurst Business Group to deliver on projects that will ultimately result in a more vibrant and prosperous town centre.  To date our volunteer efforts have been focussed on the High Street and Belmont Parade with some support for the businesses in Royal Parade. We have had a number of notable successes (LINK) along the way and the vitality and buzz in Chislehurst has returned!

For our latest news, take a look at the Town Team News page and follow the Visit Chislehurst Facebook page.

Context

Chislehurst is an attractive and popular High Street, loved by many of its users. It is unusual in having considerable green space and is well-served by reasonably-priced parking. It has a reasonable shopping offer with Sainsbury’s meeting many day-to-day needs, a number of niche retailers with a number of high-end fashion, interior furnishing and fittings retailers, and a good range of personal services. It is most notably a leisure High Street with a good range of bars restaurants and cafes and plenty of places to enjoy a coffee ‘al fresco’.

Like many town centres it is threatened by competing retail offers, other centres and our changing shopping habits including increasing use of the internet to explore and buy goods and services. In recent times, it has lost all but one of its banks and while the vacancy rate is relatively low, it is important to attract new retailers and appropriate food and drink and service offers. Although comparatively well served for parking, shoppers feel this could be improved and/or cheaper. Traffic problems focus on the access to Sainsbury’s and the Willow Grove/High street junction which becomes heavily congested at peak times. There are a number of opportunity sites where redevelopment could enhance the High Street and its retail and leisure offer, where close scrutiny is required to ensure the best possible outcome for shoppers, residents, businesses and visitors.

In the context of the GLA’s London Plan (The Greater London Authority’s strategic plan for London) Chislehurst does not seem to exist – ie, it would appear that it is too insignificant even to be described as unclassified. The London Borough of Bromley identifies Chislehurst as one of 5 local centres, the others being Biggin Hill, Hayes, Locksbottom and Mottingham. The focus of LBB town centre policies (and resources) is on the 6 larger town centres (Bromley, Orpington, Beckenham Penge, Petts Wood and West Wickham). Nevertheless, the planning policies aim to retain the retail function of the smaller centres and notes that “The main function of these centres is to provide an adequate range of shops and services to meet the needs of local communities. This is particularly important for those without a car or those who are unable, through age or infirmity, to reach the larger centres. Non-retail uses may be considered appropriate to meet a wider range of needs and to prevent long-term vacancy (which undermines the character of the area), but only if the retailing function of the centre is not threatened.”

Achievements

Current Projects

We continue to address the issue of persistently empty properties which we feel are a blot on our High Street.

Proposals for 2017-2022

  1. The Challenge now is to retain the feel-good factor which clearly exists in Chislehurst. The following actions are proposed as priorities for CTT and to be put to LBB for the period 2017- 2022.
  2. Promote and guide the redevelopment of the Library site to ensure that the proposals meet local needs and enhance the retail offer of the High Street
  3. Promote the redevelopment of the Age UK site ensuring that access is maintained to the Sainsbury’s site to provide an opportunity for a through traffic system alleviating congestion at the Willow Grove junction.
  4. Continue to press for a 30-minute free parking system in the High Street and promote take up of the Ringo system of cash-free parking payments. Press for trial free parking day/weekend possibly concurrent with ‘Small Business Saturday’. Continue to explore improvements to parking signage and promote changes in the High St parking layout – e.g. herringbone layout.
  5. Maintain and develop the events programme with the intention of having one event per month; explore the development of a periodic Arts trail or market; explore increasing the frequency of the Sunday Farmers market to weekly; explore the feasibility of a food festival; explore more family and child focussed events including; a temporary summer beach near Prickend Pond; and a bear hunt. Resourcing such a programme would be a considerable challenge and would depend on the capacity of local businesses and charities to get involved; explore employing an events organiser on a more permanent basis
  6. Maintain and heighten the profile of Chislehurst. The VisitChislehurst web-site and the branded signage provide a good foundation. This could be developed into a broader theme to identify and consolidate Chislehurst’s ‘USP’. The theme ‘A place that cares’ has been suggested to build on its reputation as a friendly welcoming place. This would have to be backed up by friendly welcoming actions – including – better disabled access and facilities; better facilities for young mothers; more TLC for the elderly and infirm etc.
  7. Work with key retailers specifically Sainsbury’s to develop and deliver joint promotions which encourage shoppers to spend longer in Chislehurst High Street to use and enjoy its services and facilities.
  8. Explore loyalty schemes (Chislehurst card; discount days etc) to reward existing customers and encourage visitors to become regular loyal customers.
  9. Maintain and develop the dialogue with the key players in Chislehurst Town Centre., including LBB, landowners, developers, key utilities and others who to help influence and shape the future of the High Street with a view to enhancing the shopping mix, improving the quality of the streetscape and resolving the traffic issues.
  10. Heighten the profile of Chislehurst amongst key agencies and stakeholders. In particular question and explore its ‘local centre’ status in LBB with a view to re-designating it as a District Centre. Such re-designation to be pursued also with the GLA. Such designations tend to be based on retail floorspace and may be influenced by the dispersed nature of the Town Centre (High St, Royal Parade and Belmont Parade) and indeed the future development of the Library Site and the Age UK site.

Chislehurst Reward Scheme

The Chislehurst Society has teamed up with a number of Chislehurst business to provide a Reward scheme that is exclusive to its members. All you need to is to show your Reward Card at the time of purchase. Here is a list of participating businesses

Contact Us

Please feel free to contact the Chislehurst Town Team with any questions about their work, issues or suggestions for improvement: alison.stammers@chislehurst-society.org.uk or Alison@VisitChislehurst.org.uk

We would ask that, if you see a relatively minor issue in our town centre and parades – for example, overflowing bins, pavement defects, graffiti etc – would you please report it using FIXMYSTREET

For bigger issues, you may want to contact our ward councillors which are listed here

And why not follow us on Twitter @ChisTownTeam and on Facebook @VisitChislehurst?