Sub-Section 2: Built features of the town Edit
Q5 What is the shape and density of the town (that is, are buildings clustered together, dispersed or a mixture)?
West Malling is a nucleated village, tightly packed around the crossroads formed by Swan Street, High Street and West Street. The High Street opens into a spacious market square, but houses are densely packed around the town centre, though many have long rear gardens. Several large properties have been subdivided, or the grounds developed for additional properties. These include Parsonage Court Water Lane, the former High Street Rural District Council Offices, Malling House Town Hill, Abbey Brewery Swan Street, and Douces Manor St Leonards Street where construction is still underway. Planning consent has been granted for residential development of the Magistrates Court and Police Station on Police Station Road.
Q6 Where are the town’s distinctive built landmarks and conservation areas, and are they are in good condition?
There are three Conservation areas in the Parish; one covering the majority of the nucleated town, and two others covering the hamlets of New Barns, Lavenders Road, and St Leonard's, St Leonards Street.
The distinctive built landmarks within the parish include the Norman St Leonard's Tower, the Ewell Monastery with its barn, St Mary's Abbey, St Mary's Church and Church Centre, Douces Manor, Malling Place, Malling House, New Barns House, Forge House, the colonnaded shops in West Street, and newly restored house in King Square. The majority of the properties in High Street and Swan Street have listed status.
In the adjoining parish of East Malling there are Conservation areas at Broadwater Farm, Clare Park. In Leybourne a conservation area in the vicinity of the Pump at Pump Close marks the site of the former Leybourne Mill, Laundry and Fish Ponds, and a second conservation area protects Leybourne Castle.
The ancient Priests house which lies to the west side of the Swan Mill Yard is in need of some preservation work, and ideally should be open to the public
No specific areas where redevelopment is required.
Q8 Range of uses of buildings in the town? Mixed retail, office, residential and heritage sites
Residential including properties within the central retail area.
- Offices, including many above retail premises.
- Churches (Church of England including the Church Centre, Roman Catholic and Baptist including adjoining playgroup), St Mary's Abbey and Ewell Monastery which houses the Pilsden Community.
- Services including Post Office, Bank and Building Society, Solicitor, GP Surgery, Chemist, Veterinary Surgeon, Dentist,2 Opticians, Funeral Director, Plumber and heating engineer, Garage repairs and vehicle sales.
- Accommodation is available at the Swan, and (Smith) House
- Two primary schools...West Malling Church of England CPS and More Park Roman Catholic Primary School, Three playgroups, Library, Village Hall, Clout Institute housing the CAB, Working Men's Club, Masonic Hall
Prepared food is available at:
- Seven Public Houses, The Five Pointed Star, The Lobster Pot, Joiners, The Bull, The Swan, the Bear, and the Scared Crow. Restaurants The Bakery, Pinch, Sylvesters (now gone), Ghandi, Imperial Dynasty, the Thai Restaurant Cafes at Mackenzies, Rumbletums, Swan Yard Craft Barn Take away food available from Imperial Dynasty, fish and chip shop, Oscars, the Bean Rush
- Tesco supermarket, newsagent, adult children sport and working clothing stores, two charity shops, Country pursuits (fishing, shooting etc.) video hire (now gone), photographic, florist, ceramic tiles, antiques/interior design and furnishing, Five estate agents, Kitchen outfitter, jeweller, 2 insurance agents, clock shop, printing and reprographics, household and garden goods, off licence. Swan Mill and Baldocks market
Q9 Are the main routes into the town, including those from train and bus stations, attractive and in good condition?
The attractiveness of the routes into West Malling derives mainly from the outstanding architectural quality of the buildings, and ancient stone walls. However there are both historical and amenity features which add to the attraction of the routes. The Abbey Cascade is an attractive historical feature in Swan Street, where new trees were planted within the last ten years. Many mature trees exist along St Leonard's Street, and a small green at the intersection with Teston Road has been planted with trees. The Town Hill approach to the town passes a small green owned by KCC with trees and spring bulbs. This needs remodelling to prevent soil encroachment on the path and improved maintenance. A planted area marks the entrance to the long stay car park and this needs replanting and improved maintenance. Another amenity area which requires replanting is the prominent site alongside Kevin's Carpets.
Planting of spring bulbs has been carried out on London Road at the junction with Town Hill, on the Green and surrounding the War Memorial in the High Street, at the junction of Teston Road and St Leonard's Street, and at the junction of Lavenders Road and Swan Street.
The private railway Station Approach Road is poorly lit.
The Parish Council has asked the County Council if trees could be planted along Town Hill to soften the traffic calming measures installed there.
Swan Street underwent a Borough Council traffic calming scheme which widened pavements, and planted trees a few years ago. Town Hill and High Street were remodelled two years ago to provide a pedestrian crossing with level access for wheelchair and buggy users.
Q10 Are the main pedestrian routes between car parks and the town centre attractive, well maintained, well lit, and safe to use (for example, with security CCTV cameras in use) both day and night?
All pedestrian routes are lit to footway standards. Both car parks have CCTV but the pedestrian routes from the shoppers car park into the shopping area are dark and in the case of the path to Swan Street, run through a poorly maintained area where litter is commonly left. The unloading of goods onto the pavements creates a continuous need for pavement repairs. The County Council has this year allocated a sum of money for the provision of new and improved drop kerbs to improve access within the shopping area.
Q11 Are street fitting and fixtures in the town well located and in good condition?
The shopping area has several cast iron wall mounted waste bins which are empties daily. Street lights within the conservation area are of a Victorian design, and provide lighting to footway standard. Outside the conservation area a more modern design is used. There are a number of lights in need of replacement, and the Parish Council has a rolling programme of upgrading and repair as finances allow. There are benches on the Green, in the churchyard and in the High Street, some of which have been sponsored. A new design has been adopted for future installations. There are a variety of different bollard designs, many of which are regularly damaged by cars. A new design has been adopted and used by the bus shelter. The shelter itself is not particularly attractive but was provided by the Borough Council to their design,
Q12 Which areas of the town are over-cluttered with signs, street furniture, advertising hoardings, etc?
Within the Conservation Area much street furniture has been removed from the pavement by the Parish Council, including waste bins and street lights, to improve the openness of the townscape. However, the Borough Council has within the last two years placed a great many kerb side signs on posts indicating parking regulations. They have accepted that they will replace these with signs either on the buildings or at the backs of the pavements as finances allow, since damage by parking cars is frequent resulting in posts being aligned in all directions. There are several areas where multiple signs could be simplified onto one sign e.g. at junction of Swan Street and Lavenders Road.