We were commissioned to undertake a Retail, Leisure and Hotels Study to inform Tunbridge Wells Borough Council’s emerging Local Plan to 2033. The Study focussed on the key centre of Royal Tunbridge Wells, a significant retail and leisure destination, as well as the Borough’s four smaller centres of Southborough, Paddock Wood, Cranbrook and Hawkhurst. This project had particular significance given the extent of planned investment in the local area.
Our Study sought to deliver an appraisal of the needs and capacity of the retail, leisure and hotel provisions in the Borough, along with providing an update to a previous study completed in 2014. We commissioned a household telephone survey of 1,600 local residents to develop a picture of current market shares and spending patterns. We then carried out comprehensive town centre surveys and health check assessments of each of the Borough’s centres, in conjunction with consultation with local stakeholder groups. This enabled us to establish the views of local residents and businesses in order to better inform our assessments.
We also undertook a thorough analysis of the local, regional and national hotel markets, in addition to a physical review of existing premises, to model how demand may increase over the plan period.
Supported by our qualitative assessment of the Borough’s retail and leisure provision, we produced a flexible model to analyse the total available expenditure to support new retail development in each of the centres identified. In addition, we also provided recommendations to guide suitable town centre development through the Council’s emerging Local Plan.
Using the information gathered in our Hotel Study, we also completed a ‘gap analysis’ of visitor accommodation and provided advice for the development related services over the duration of the plan period.