Community pulls together for Folkestone Market Place 'Covent Garden' transformation - Photos

Contributed by editor on Mar 14, 2014 - 11:35 AM

Local businesses, residents and the council have all pulled together to transform the appearance of part of a run down area in Folkestone’s old town.

Market Place had been blighted with trade waste bins - the main issue being that once full, seagulls would drag food waste and bags of litter out into the area.

There were also problems with fly tipping, dog fouling, and anti social behaviour.

Googies and Djangos cafes back directly out on to the square, and the owners got together with a local resident who rents a flat in Market Place, to work out a solution.


Market Place before and after


Jen Gristock and Keith Holland and Angela Ruby had the idea of creating a colourful community hub, similar to that of Neal’s Yard in Covent Garden.

Following advice from Shepway District Council community projects officer, Emily Ghassempour, they won the support of other people, businesses, and artists, Town Council and other Councillors.

They were successfully awarded Cllr Hugh Barkers £1,000 members grant which enabled them to start the project as well Cllr Emily Arnold’s 1,000 members grant and Cllr Richard Theobald granted £400.


Some of the trade waste bins have been moved out of the area Most of the improvements have now been made, old planters removed, walls painted bright colours and new robust planters put in place. There is still more to do and the community are really excited about finishing the project in time for the summer.

Jen Gristock, said: ‘I am an avid Noel Redding fan (the bass guitarist from the Jimi Hendrix experience) and when I let the group know that Noel was born and raised in Folkestone, it was decided to name the project after him. A play on words from Neal’s Yard became ‘Noels Yard’.’

Councillor Barker said: ‘This project shows what a community can do when we all pull together. I was delighted to support this to get it started and think the results so far have been a complete transformation. Shepway District Council wants to help create places where people want to live, work and visit. This has really improved the appearance of this part of Folkestone.’

Councillor Emily Arnold said: "This project appealed to me as it shows how the council’s community projects team can help the community help themselves and drive forward their ambitions for their area.’

"The Community Support Unit granted seed funding of £1,500 at the start of the project.

"The group then applied to the Council’s High Street Innovation Fund. £7,374 has been awarded, which means further work can now continue.

"The group still has more work to do before the Noels Yard project is completed. The vandalized BT phone box has been removed and it is intended to build a residents bin store They hope other local businesses will become part of the bin store scheme – this will remove the remaining bins off the pavement and make the area cleaner and safer.

"They would also like local artists to be commissioned to create a mosaic mural which will be a prominent feature – and they would like the lighting to be updated. They hope to have an opening event in the early summer."


© Hawkinge Gazette and Channel Coast News 2014

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