‘Case Study: Hawkhurst, Kent
Hawkhurst Community Partnership have developed a 3-year programme of town improvements, tourism development, community activities and events in order to raise visitor awareness of Hawkhurst as a destination and to support and sustain the local economy.
Need for the project
The Market Towns Healthcheck for Hawkhurst was carried out in 2006 with extensive consultation across the community. This study clearly identified that Hawkhurst was in need of regeneration and also highlighted that tourism, despite the potential, was one key area where little was being done.
The Hawkhurst Community Partnership developed an action plan to address this, with the following key aims:
- increased local footfall
- increased local turnover and sustainability of smaller retail units
- increased awareness and sale of local produce
- improved tourism business development
- improved public realm
- increase the supply of local visitor accommodation
Planning the Project
The Action Plan enabled the Steering Group to bid for SEEDA-funding through Kent Rural Towns to deliver a 3-year programme of town improvements, tourism development, community activities and events, to address and meet the aims.
In drawing up and developing the costed project plan, HCP had assistance from Hawkhurst Parish Council, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and Tourism South East. However any SEEDA-funding needed to be matched, so Hidden Britain was asked to help identify potential matched funding sources and help refine the action plan. By February 2009 all matched funding was in place from ?? funders.
This was an ambitious project with a wide focus and many different strands, therefore HCP employed a project co-ordinator part-time to keep an overview on the process. In addition separate working groups were set up for each element, pulling in different expertise and volunteer input as needed. All of the projects with a direct tourism focus were supported by Hidden Britain.
Although there were a number of projects and a correspondingly high workload , by phasing them over the 3 year period the group has, so far, been able to achieve a large amount of outputs for a manageable level of input.
Project Outputs :
- The production and distribution of 50,000 copies of the Hawkhurst Heritage Trail leaflet.
- The organisation of “Flix & Pix”, Film and Arts Festival in 2009 & 2010 in conjunction with the Kino digital cinema.
- Accommodation workshops to assist providers to obtain official accreditation.
- Business workshops for existing and start-up businesses.
- Refurbishment of the canopy of Hawkhurst’s iconic Colonnade.
- The organisation of“Beefing it Up” – a Celebration of Local Food and the centenary of the Oxo Cube (created in Hawkhurst) in 2010.
- A new Business Networking Group which meets monthly.
- The organisation of “Ways & Means” (2011) – the creation of a Smugglers Trail to mark the existence of the famous Hawkhurst Gang; and a Classic Car Show with an emphasis on Rootes cars (founded locally).
- A new website for Hawkhurst’s community, businesses and visitors at www.visithawkhurst.org.uk.
Achievements of the Project:
Businesses engaged (132)
Around 100 businesses have attended the business group events and in addition basic listing on the website is free of charge for all Hawkhurst businesses, giving free publicity to many more.
No. of volunteers (est. 15)
There have been around 15 core volunteers involved in delivery and management of the projects, although plenty more have and will continue to become involved as some of the larger events come to fruition. On top of this many businesses and organisation have also freely given their time. An estimate from HCP pegs this in-kind contribution at a value of around £100,000 to date.
Skills & training
30 Local businesses have benefited from business workshops, covering subjects such as marketing, starting a business and growing your business. On top of that a further 30 people have so far attended the accommodation workshops, encourage new start-ups and existing to become accredited. In addition volunteers have gained skills and experience in various areas, most particularly in; obtaining funding, project planning, project management, commissioning and working with designers and printers, planning events and marketing.
HBSE has assisted Hawkhurst in development of content for Ruralways and several other destination websites, both regionally and nationally. In addition HBSE has assisted with design and creation of flyers, posters, logos and business cards to help publicise the project.
For more view the destination page on our sister site »