Whitstable Maritime Coastal Community Team

Whitstable Coast
Image courtesy of Barry Thompson

The CCT is a partnership of statutory, private and voluntary bodies led by a ‘not-for-profit’ Company which is itself run by volunteers.

Whitstable Maritime Ltd has a Board and an Extended Management Team of up to 25 Members. Members have voting rights and have been invited to join because they offer relevant expertise and experience.

The Board has been recently strengthened at the Company’s first AGM. Increasingly Members are working in Task and Finish Teams which have substantial responsibilities. Each Team is led by a member of the Board so as to retain cohesion and accountability.

This model of ‘collaborative leadership' extends across the CCT where the Company will recognise and value the expertise of others who might not choose to become Members but still wish to contribute to the initiative.

Currently there is a network of approximately 60 people in the local community who are actively engaged.

Whitstable

Whitstable is a seaside town located on the north-east coast of Kent. It is connected to London by a hi-speed railway and motorways. Eurostar and ferry companies provide easy and frequent access to northern Europe. Sea defences protect the town from coastal erosion.

Historically, the town was famous for the Native Oysters dredged in the Swale estuary. Boatbuilding, timber and coal imports, fishing and diving, were other significant economic activities. Although these traditional industries have declined there is still a working harbour, which, along with independent retailers and fine dining outlets, attracts increasing number of visitors throughout the year.

Community

Whitstable has a vibrant and diverse community with active voluntary, community and faith organisations, and successful independent retailers. However, the foreshore is relatively undeveloped and there is a lack of strategic direction which makes it vulnerable. Whitstable Maritime has succeeded in bringing together different organisations concerned with the town’s connections with the sea. In particular it enables an active partnership between the public, private and voluntary sectors around clear strategic outcomes that are beneficial to the community.

The town is defined by the sea and this is recognised by families that have been resident for generations as well as recent arrivals, those with second homes, and visitors. The past, present and future connections with the sea provide a focus around which all can unite.

Local economy

Whitstable has performed well economically in recent times, bouncing back strongly from its considerable socio-economic problems of the 1990s when there were empty shops and high unemployment. However it remains a fragile economy because of the physical constraints on growth, the decline of traditional industries such as shipping and fishing, and its dependence on weekend visitors who could be attracted to other seaside towns. Any future building is constrained by the town’s 180 degree hinterland, protected woodland and a major highway.

So the future prosperity of the town is dependent on economic growth from activities that add value to the current visitor offer within its boundaries. The harbour is a key component of any regeneration, as is the foreshore generally.