The Whitstable Improvement Trust was established in 1989 as an independent Charitable Company, with funding jointly from Canterbury City Council and Kent County Council. It originated from an association of local organisations led by the Whitstable Society and the Chamber of Commerce. It’s Board of Directors, all of whom are volunteers were, and still are, elected annually at the AGM by members of the Trust.
The prime objectives of the Trust have remained the same from the day of formation, these are;
- To promote for the public benefit the preservation, protection, development and improvement of buildings, land or features of particular beauty or historical, architectural or public interest in or around Whitstable (the area of benefit).
- To promote the education of the public in the geography, history, natural history and architecture and in particular of young people in the environmental studies in the area of benefit.
- To promote any other charitable purpose in the area of benefit.
Improvements to public spaces, many of them now familiar Whitstable landmarks, provide a lasting testament to the initiatives taken by our members over the years.
Signing by the four representatives of the partnership agreement, formalising the structure and operating rules for The Whitstable Improvement Trust in July 1989
From left to right: Roger Higman of the Civic Trust, Terry Pears of Kent County Council, Jim Knock leader of Canterbury City Council, and Peter Miles OBE Chairman of Whitstable Improvement Trust.
Close to one hundred projects have been successfully completed since our formation, including major refurbishment and community enhancement schemes, shop-front improvements, signage and heritage-based publications. The Trust have sought to retain and care for the unique nature of the town, its architecture, landscape and heritage and have encouraged new development that is sympathetic to the local character.
Some of the projects are listed below:
- Outdoor Gym on Tankerton Slopes
- Tower Hill Tea Garden
- Starvation Point flagpole and garden area
- Oxford Street Railway Bridge railway emblems
- The Deck at Dead Man’s Corner in the harbour
- Library Square & War Memorial garden
- Prospect Field and Cushing’s View seating
- No 1 Tankerton Road
- Tankerton Boulevard
- St Mary’s Parish Hall & Garden
- Heritage Signage throughout the town
In addition, the Trust has taken the lead in a number of ‘In Bloom’ initiatives, undertaking planting and providing planters around the town and harbour. Furthermore, newly introduced street signs, information and heritage panels have served to guide visitors to places of interest and their history.
The Trust has always been open to all who are interested in having an influence on the local environment and its associated quality of life, through individual, group or corporate membership. Depending on the nature of the project, the Trust has worked in partnership with a variety of local interest groups and associations including local schools, colleges and the City and County councils. The membership of our Board of Directors & Trustees is broadly representative of this diversity.
For many years the Trust was located at 34 Harbour Street where we had our office, shop and visitor information centre. The shop generated a modest income, to help support our community work, but our Visitor Information Centre was a free service. Both operations were actively supported by our volunteers and managed by one employee on a part-time basis.
Unfortunately, because of the lack of community grants from the local authorities, on which the Trust was originally founded and financed, we were unable to generate enough income to sustain our operations and in 2019 it was decided to change our strategy to enable us to continue to meet our prime objectives.
Therefore, at the end of 2019, we closed the shop with a view to generating a regular income by leasing the premises. This enables us to introduce a grant scheme of our own available on application to local groups and organisations with similar aims as ourselves. The money from these grants must be used solely for initiatives which benefit the people of Whitstable and the surrounding area.