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The Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threat analysis (SWOT) has used all of the Health Check analysis to identify the key issues in the area so that the Action Plan can now be developed.

Strengths Edit

Area
High quality market Town of character –specialist shops, monthly Farmer’s Market, hospitality and services E/En
Relatively well-off area, low unemployment, range of business sizes and sectors, business growth area (particularly at Kings Hill) E
Lots of local activities – clubs, sports, space for walking, riding and cycling S
Regular established events attracting people into the town – Malling Day, Christmas Lights, English Heritage Open days, Open Gardens, Open Studios, and Music in the Church concert programme. E
Visitor attractions – 22 historic sites, a town walk, Country Park, Macey’s Meadow, Tourist Information stand E
Most residents work in the area, and there is more housing being built, including social housing so the economically active population will increase S
Low crime area with strong neighbourhood policing team and community support in areas requiring assistance in developing projects S
Local business web site in place with high take up among the town centre businesses, and a promotional Newsletter, the “Oracle” publicises local businesses and events to the local community E
Regular train service to London/Maidstone, regular bus service between main villages T
High car ownership, ease of access by car around the area T
M20 and A228 improvements reduce pressure on the town centre, 20 mph speed limit in place – a traffic survey following the A228 improvements is now due T
Good range of footpaths T
Substantial protection of the local environment – part of the Metropolitan Green Belt, Best and Most Versatile agricultural land, conservation area in the town centre, Manor Park designated a Country Park, public ownership of Macey’s Meadow, Old Cricket Ground, Playing Fields, designated Rural Service area with limited development En

Weaknesses Edit

Weakening of the quality of the Market Town character with 5 (13%) retail shops replaced by restaurants and service businesses in the last 3 years, Farmer’s Market losing trade and momentum, Malling Day cancelled last year and being run on a much reduced scale this year E
Parking problems in the town centre – residents, businesses, commuters and visitors competing for too few spaces: There is no regular parking enforcement so people regularly park on double yellow lines and on Bus Stops, causing a problem for efficient bus services after 4.00 pm T/E/S/En
No marketing of the town as a complete offer to visitors – no focus for promotional activities for businesses linked to events E
No business support to small businesses in the town centre E
Bus service routes and timetables are not promoted in an integrated way, acting as a barrier to use of public transport T
Local people use “rat runs” through the lanes to access facilities, work and the station and avoid main road congestion – this may improve with the planned additional parking at the station T
Pedestrians at risk due to speeding in the 20 mph limit T/S
Lack of safe cycling routes and cycle parking (only available at the station) T
No coach parking in the town – prevents access to significant day tripper market T
Lack of focus for a community voice to influence local authority decision making S
Some services under strain with housing development – doctors, dentists, plus hospitals having problems and ambulance response times are below average S
Pavements in poor repair, drainage channels blocked En
Some problems in the High Street with anti social behaviour from pub customers, there have been some instances of elderly people being threatened and robbed by bogus callers S

Opportunities Edit

Most residents work in the area, and there is more housing being built, including social housing so the economically active population will increase – the Borough Council is funding a Housing Survey so that social housing land could be identified in West Malling itself S
Relatively well-off area, low unemployment, range of business sizes and sectors, business growth area (particularly at Kings Hill) E
Borough Council Review of Local Development Framework gives opportunity to include planning policy to protect further loss of retail premises E
Creation of 300 plus car park at West Malling station: Timetable unclear at present. E
Potential to use the Country Park more creatively as a cultural venue for music, theatre, son et lumiere and art events S/E

Threats Edit

New housing and business developments will increase pressure on parking and services T/S
Increased rat running will discourage visitors from the town centre E
Traffic managed away from the town centre will reduce “drive by” visitor opportunities E
Loss of visitors if the shift in balance of town centre businesses continues away from the retail shops E
Upward pressure on rents if more branches of national chains move into the town centre, reducing the specialist shops even more E
Removal of Borough Council financial support for Farmers Market E
Borough Council proposal to designate Alcohol Control Zone E
Borough Council proposal to introduce parking charges for visitors – businesses are strongly against this, with evidence from other towns that charging reduces visitor numbers E



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