A £6m blueprint for the Island’s future was officially launched this week with the publication of the Sheppey Proud economic plan.
The 44-page document was unveiled at the Healthy Living Centre in Sheerness on Monday evening by Heather Thomas-Pugh who helped create the Sheppey Coastal Community Team and who chaired the project.
Six focus groups came up with 61 projects between August and January to boost the Island at a cost of £5,992,000. A series of “quick wins” could gobble up £1,527,300 in the first year.
Mrs Thomas-Pugh admitted: “It was a race against time to complete the document by its January deadline and at some stages it was like pulling teeth. It was certainly a learning curve for many of us. But now we have a number of positive schemes to take forward.”
The plan has been rubber-stamped by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) but organisations now only have until June 30 to submit “expressions of interest” for £36m of Government cash earmarked for reinvigorating Britain’s seaside
The Government will release a further £54m in 2017.
Mrs Thomas-Pugh stressed: “Since we submitted our economic plan for assessment we have not been resting on our laurels. There has been a lot of work going on behind the scenes and some projects are already beginning to take-off thanks to funding from other areas.”
And she added: “Although the Sheppey Coastal Team can only submit one project in this round, there is nothing to stop other organisations such as charities, parish and borough councils and community groups from applying for funds as long as their project meets the economic plan’s criteria and vision.”
Among the projects already under way are Peter MacDonald’s cliff erosion scheme at Eastchurch; a creative learning centre and wildlife garden at the Old Mill, Standford Hill, Eastchurch; and a clean up the streets campaign in association with Swale council.
The Coastal Community Team believes the Island now needs a £20,000-a-year full-time project manager to coordinate the various bids, sharing offices with Sheppey Matters for free.
The coastal community team was put together a year ago after a public appeal for organisations and individuals to help. The volunteers were selected from 55 delegates at a launch event on September 22.
They agreed to serve on focus groups for: 1. Local Business and Town Centre; 2. Tourism, Art, Culture and Leisure; 3. Education, Employment and Training; 4. Health; 5. Environment and 6. Transport and Infrastructure.
The Sheppey Proud team organised a survey of the Island’s needs using a six-week on-line poll, printed questionnaires and the Sheerness Times Guardian. More than 350 took part.
The top five concerns were:
1. Disappointing selection of shops in Sheerness and the dirtiness of the town;
2. Not enough regional and national promotion of Sheppey as a seaside resort;
3. Lack of restaurants and little to do for young people and families;
4. Perceived problem with Sheppey’s secondary education;
5. Inadequate roads, broadband speed and healthcare.
Mrs. Thomas-Pugh said: “I’d like to thank everyone who took part in the survey and helped with the focus groups for all their hard work. Islanders certainly resonated with attempts to regenerate Sheppey.”
MP Gordon Henderson said: “Sheppey needs help. Some of its local council wards are among the most deprived in Kent. It suffers from roads which cannot cope with newly-built housing estates and a lack of public investment.
“But despite all the negatives, the Island is a fantastic place to live, work and do business.
“The Coastal Team has put together a persuasive case for financial support and an exciting range of initiatives that could help regenerate the Island and improve the living standards of residents.”
The full economic plan is available to view online at
Tourism, art and culture, leisure.
1. Market Sheppey as a tourist destination, regionally, nationally and internationally.
2. Promote the Island’s countryside, water sports and heritage;
3. Develop Queenborough Harbour to appeal to international sailors;
4. Improve Sheerness promenade and introduce light railway;
5. Maximise Sheppey heritage;
6. Regenerate Beachfields, Sheerness;
7. Create small harbour by Ship on Shore pub.
Business and town centre
1. Employ part-time town centre manager to animate high street;
2. Use lampposts to hang professional banners promoting heritage and events;
3. Inspire shop-keepers to reinvigorate town with motivational conference;
4. Promote independent shops with Sheppey Proud stickers;
5. Improve town centre environment with £1m Heritage Lottery Fund bid pump-primed using £100,000 Morrison money from Neats Court out-of-town shops;
6. Increase footfall with free Wi-Fi hot-spot around clock tower and replace clock tower up-lighters with colour-changing LEDs;
7. Deep-clean high street, repair broken pavements and install more litter bins.
Transport and infrastructure
1. Reduce congestion on A2500 Lower Road by replacing traffic lights with roundabout at junction with Barton Hill Drive;
2. Maintain and improve Island train and bus services;
3. Boost fast broadband coverage;
4. Improve mobile phone coverage;
Education, employment and skills.
1. Ensure all school-leavers are ready for work;
2. Prepare school-leavers for university or apprenticeships;
1. Promote healthy lifestyles;
2. Provide sustainable care for the frail, elderly and vulnerable;
3. Train and develop health and social care workers.
1. Protect and enhance environment and wildlife habitats;
2. Improve Island’s sea defences;
3. Ensure Island is prepared to adapt to changing climate;
If you would like to support the work we do then please donate whatever you can via the PayPal button below:
c/o Sheppey Healthy Living Centre
Off the Broadway,
Tel: 01795 585335