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Guildhall Quarter – a modern retail and residential space for historic Canterbury

Getting residents and the council excited about redevelopment plans

Brief

  • In April 2019, Debenhams announced that its Canterbury stores, which sit close to the city’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, would close in January 2020.
  • Canterbury-based Clague Architects was commissioned by site owner Chaucer Property Investment and property managers 90 North to bring forward designs for a new use for the sites.
  • Maxim was appointed to secure support from local residents and decision-makers for the proposed £25m redevelopment of the site into residential and retail premises – and ultimately to secure planning permission.

Results and highlights

  • Maxim worked with Clague to give the site a name, logo, branding and an exciting narrative around the creation of modern retail space to retain the city’s status as both a tourism and shopping destination.
  • The campaign emphasised the development as a positive opportunity for Canterbury, and the importance to the city of avoiding the site becoming a collection of unattractive, unused, boarded-up buildings.
  • Clague and 90 North’s engagement with key local stakeholders – such as tourism and inward investment bodies, Canterbury BID and Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce – was carefully co-ordinated to ensure all parties recognised and become advocates for the opportunity to create a retail space fit for the 21st century.
  • Overwhelming local support was secured at a public exhibition on the project, thanks to Maxim producing engaging exhibition boards and preparing a comprehensive Q&A for project leaders.
  • A website reinforcing key messages was launched, with Maxim creating the content and project managing the design.
  • Maxim’s strong relationship with local media secured significant coverage in local business press, broadcast outlets and with two highly-positive front-page stories in the Kentish Gazette, hailing the project as a ‘City Saviour’ with a ‘2020 Vision’.
  • The council’s planning committee unanimously approved the scheme, with construction work due to start later in 2020.

Services delivered

Community engagement, marketing, media relations, public affairs

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