/ Visit Faversham
/ Faversham the Rising Star
Left to right: Marcus Jones - High Streets Minister, Helen Whately MP, Lucy Guthrie - Faversham Business Partnership, Grahame Kane - Faversham Markets, Simon Roberts - President of Boots.
Receiving the Rising Star award at Admiralty House, Whitehall on 30th November, 2015 on behalf of Faversham.
Summary of application for the Great British High Street -
Rising Star Award
Faversham is an attractive ancient market town that traces its trading roots through history to the Domesday Book. It has many historic buildings and at its centre a market place with a 16th century Guildhall with four retail streets radiating from it.
However like many towns Faversham has been buffeted by the ‘perfect storm’ of online shopping, out-of-town shopping centres and strong competition from neighbouring towns.
Now new life has been injected into the town centre through an integrated range of thriving markets and an extensive programme of festivals, activities and events which will surprise and enhance the shopping experience.
The substantial community involvement has resulted in an increase in footfall, a significant growth in markets stalls and a sustainable number of independent shops.
The shopping experience
Faversham has a unique range of independent shops that provide quality products, and an excellent range of pubs, cafes and restaurants. Food outlets extensively use and promote local producers for their ingredients.
The High Street has been made an enjoyable place to be – an experience that is not achieved in out of town shopping malls, on the internet, nor in the local supermarkets.
People now wander down to the town centre to see what is going on and to be surprised by music, street entertainment, changing market stalls and new products. The high street is a social occasion where people enjoy a friendly interaction with stall holders and shop keepers who know their products and can advise customers.
Venues undertake community based activities such a bookclub and film shows taking place in a café, the new yarn shop hosts knitting workshops, Creek Creative holds art classes and exhibitions, cafés exhibit and sell paintings by local artists.
The shops sponsor festivals and raise money for local causes such as the Swing Bridge.
The Assembly Rooms hosts free Saturday classical concerts.
Faversham Market Co-operative has developed the markets in the town. In addition to the traditional markets on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays in the last two years successful additional markets have been created - a Sunday Antiques Market bringing new life into the high street when the streets were otherwise empty and the Best of Faversham Arts, Crafts and Food Market on Saturdays provides an outlet for local people to sell their wares.
The markets have produced an environment where local people could begin to market trade at minimal cost and develop their business ideas so they could take their market stalls to other locations or graduate to shop premises.
One example is Elenor Lambert who traded on the market, ran pop up restaurants, then opened ‘The Yard’ café in February 2015. It is now the highest rated Faversham café on Trip Advisor, is employing 11 people and has just won the Kent Life Food and Drink Award for best newcomer
Festivals and events
The extensive festival and event programme has built on Faversham’s history and traditions. A great deal of local people are involved in the running of festivals which creates local ownership and a strong sense of pride in the town. Different events draw in very different audiences who will revisit the town on other occasions.
Open House, now a worldwide event, was innovated in Faversham which continues to develop new events such as the Hat Festival, Midsummer Night markets, Christmas night market, and next year possibly a Folk Festival.
Markets and shops have tied into the festival themes e.g. a garden market to accompany Open Gardens and shop window dressing competitions.
Publicity and Marketing
The Tourist Association works with Faversham Town Council who employs a tourist officer to promote Faversham as a tourist destination.
A visitor information centre located in the high street is staffed by local volunteers.
Faversham’s high street is promoted through guides, websites, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, trade shows, and special promotions. 40,000 promotional leaflets were recently distributed to households in Canterbury and Whitstable.
Faversham has one of the longest running Reward Card schemes in the country and is believed to be the only town with an ‘app’ that provides a high street map showing which outlets take the Reward Card and the level of points accumulated.
Local businesses cooperate through the Faversham Business Partnership, a partnership of over 200 businesses. It provides training, promotes apprenticeships, coordinates activities of high street businesses and provides an integrated website for business and community activities.
The local press is very supportive of the high street and profiles activities and outlets.
Faversham in numbers
Footfall as measured by the visitor information centre increased by 5% in 2014 and is up a further 8% so far in 2015.
Shop vacancies have been at a consistently low at 4% - much below the national average.
The markets now have 413 pitches per month, grown from 172 per month when the co-operative started in November 2011.
The Best of Faversham Market, created in May 2013, has developed from 13 stalls once a month to 30 stalls twice a month with 50 active traders.
The Antiques Market started in October 2013 with 8 traders and now has 50 stalls.
The Christmas Market in 2013 had 28 traders on two weekends; in 2015 it is expect there will be 60 traders on each of three weekends.
The Faversham Society organises and trains 50 volunteers giving advice to visitors at the Information Centre open 7 days per week in the high street.
The community and shop keepers raise money for events £5k is raised for the Christmas lights, enjoyed by visitors and residents.
The festivals and large events have dramatically increased the number of visitors to Faversham. These events now take place on twice the number of days than three years ago. This year there were several events taking place for the first time.
It is estimated that around 45,000 people attend the Hop Festival, 15,000 people attend the Faversham Transport weekend.
Our big thanks to all the businesses and wonderful people that supported this application and made it happen.