Sevenoaks – A Thriving Cultural Town

We were appointed by Sevenoaks Town Council in 2019 to set an ambition for culture as part of long-term town planning and community development, to strengthen, enrich and promote a thriving cultural offer.

Cartoon Gallery, Knole House

We undertook a high-level mapping of the local cultural offer & creative industries spread across the town centre that includes artist studios. The council is keen to create a focused cluster around The Stag, a central historic theatre, and arts centre and enhance the routes throughout the town centre including to surrounding infrastructure including the library, museum, gallery and green spaces where a range of events and festivals take place. Immediately on the southeast of the high street, Knole draws visitors year-round to the medieval house, art collection and grounds, a jewel in the National Trust collection.

The Shambles Street Art

Three key objectives were identified: to reinforce Sevenoaks’ identity as a thriving market town; to enhance the High Street’s vibrancy and the evening economy; and to retain, nurture and attract creative talent & support emerging digital and tech growth. Our plan sets out how the strategic objectives, and new Neighbourhood Plan themes, can be met through cultural and creative initiatives.

We showed how creative projects will improve the look and feel of the town, engage and involve the local community, and better promote the cultural offer locally, and to welcome visitors. Cultural animation of the public realm will also encourage people to use sustainable transport modes to travel around the area.


Sevenoaks Neighbourhood Plan themes that culture can help achieve

Through a scoping of development opportunities, we identified a range of locations and spaces with potential for cultural development. We outlined these in the plan and considered physical sites, routes, gateways and opportunities for community involvement and skill development. To inspire local stakeholders and encourage ambition, we produced a directory of case studies across public art, creative workspace, cultural promotion and skill development.

“Like many of our smaller historic towns, Sevenoaks has identified opportunities for redevelopment which create exciting possibilities for new cultural infrastructure, to diversify town centre uses and benefit local communities. Our plan has helped to focus options into a forward-looking roadmap to help guide cultural and economic development work.”

Susie Gray, Cultural Associate
Sevenoaks Festival

Finally, we produced Implementation Guidance. This series of actions will enable the delivery of a range of measures to meet the council’s cultural aims for the town. These include the creation of a strategic cultural forum, the development of new cultural policy, development, commissioning and securing investment.

Culture is now at the heart of the town’s Covid 19 recovery plan, which includes advancing proposals for a Cultural Quarter and promoting more outdoor events such as food festivals and film screenings.

Sevenoaks, Kent, 2019
Client: Sevenoaks Town Council
Collaborators: Charles Freeman Projects