Real progress is being made towards making aspirations for wide-ranging improvements in Kendal town centre a reality.
Members of the public were able to see and hear about the progress themselves at a special event to update on progress on the Kendal Futures’ Kendal Vision, which was launched in March 2020 jointly with South Lakeland District Council’s Kendal Town Centre Strategy.
Residents were invited to drop in to find out more about progress since then in the Town Council Chamber in Kendal Town Hall on Friday 8 July.
Mark Cropper, chairman of Kendal Futures, said: “At the heart of the Kendal Vision is building a more resilient and vibrant high streetand evening economy by increasing the number of people who live and work in the town centre, and improving the way we access and enjoy it.
“The Vision aims to reduce the impact of traffic and pollution in the town, improve the look and feel of the town centre and reduce the amount of greenfield development on Kendal’s outskirts.
“The information we’ve shared shows the future ambition for Kendal but this is just the start and we intend to continue to hold similar events as plans develop.”
Since the publication of the Vision, a lot of work has being going on, including the formation of Kendal Town Team, made up of South Lakeland District Council, Kendal Futures, Kendal Town Council and Cumbria County Council to jointly drive projects on.
Recent successes have included approval of the Stramongate public realm improvement scheme for the upper section of Stramongate where it meets Blackhall Road.
Informed by the Vision and setting the scene for high-quality materials to be used in future schemes, as well as developing priority projects from the Vision to catalyse positive future change in the town.
Kendal Futures board member, Noel Farrer, talked about how public consultation at the start of the Vision process had gathered many ideas and aspirations which were drawn together to form the Kendal Vision.
Working together, South Lakeland District Council, Kendal Futures, Kendal Town Council, Cumbria County Council and others, including Kendal College, had identified “pioneer projects that establish our set of values” with some of these included in a bid for investment from round two of the government’s Levelling Up Fund.
The priority projects are:
Project A – Town Centre Regeneration
New education accommodation at the Westmorland Shopping Centre, creating a third campus for Kendal College;
Regeneration of the historic Market Hall;
Regeneration of the Market Place;
Project B – Riverside Corridor
Enhancement of the riverside active travel route from Abbot Hall, along Waterside and linking to the town centre up Kent Street.
South Lakeland has been identified as “Category 3”, lowest priority of need, creating an expectation that applications would need to be “exceptional” if they are to be successful.
Bids will also be evaluated based on the other fund criteria of strategic fit, value for money and deliverability.
The projects, if funded, would enable the town to better meet the needs of younger people and business, making the most of its natural and heritage assets and further embedding education in the heart of the town and creating higher quality space for markets, events and other social activities.
They would also improve connectivity to the town centre and enhance the walking and cycling route along the river.
They will be part of a wider strategy for the next phase of the town’s evolution, enabling the district as a whole to better meet the needs of younger people and business, bringing a focus on further embedding education in the heart of the town and creating higher-quality space for markets, events and other social activities, as well as active travel.
In 2021, South Lakeland District Council approved £285,294 of core support over three years to Kendal Futures Community Interest Company (CIC) to deliver activities identified in the Kendal Vision and Kendal Town Centre Strategy, including the appointment of a Vision Manager and associated action group work.
Councillor Helen Chaffey, South Lakeland District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Housing, told the event: “”South Lakeland District Council is delighted to support the Kendal Vision because it delivers against the council’s priorities set out in our Council Plan, Local Plan and Kendal Town Centre Strategy, consistent with our own vision to make South Lakeland the best place to live, work and explore.
“It provides a clear, long-term guiding aspiration for Kendal, informed by public opinion of the people who currently live and work here.
“It puts placemaking at the heart of all future decisions – the outcomes and solutions that are right for Kendal.”
She added: “It is a great example of an established public/private sector partnership, with a proven track record of working collaboratively with local authorities, driven by local people who understand their area best with a strong business voice, all of which means there is a genuine pride of place and appetite for positive change to attract and retain a future work force.”
The day also included an update from Kendal Vision manager Nick Taylor on progress and project ideas from Kendal Futures’ Action Groups, such as Housing and Creative Industries, and how people can get involved.
Paula Scott, Kendal Futures general manager, said: “We were delighted to welcome over 100 people across the day to learn more about progress since the Vision was published.
“We had a packed audience to hear the presentation and it was really valuable to hear the range of comments and opinions in response, including feedback about some of the issues facing the town that we didn’t directly discuss.
“The exhibition boards will now be shared on the Kendal Futures website so anyone who couldn’t attend can take a look and share their views.”
Information on show at the event, as well as details about how to get involved with the Action Groups, can be found at https://www.kendalfutures.co.uk/vision-progress-update-summary.