NEWS Release: HBTA 27/06/2016The official opening of Mackeson  (Red Lion) Square

Tuesday, 28th June at 2pm will see the official opening of the newly re-generated Mackeson Square.

Christopher Melchers, Chairman of Hythe Civic Society, will cut the ribbon and declare the Square open.

Background 

In 2011, Hythe Civic Society recognised the need to improve and update the area of Red Lion Square known as Mackeson Square, and, by so doing, to open up the entrance to the High Street. The proliferation of vegetation in the Square had the effect of obscuring the entrance to the High Street from the main through road and thus confusing visitors.

At that time the surface of the Square was deteriorating badly with roots from the large Plane tree in the centre pushing up the paving slabs and creating a tripping hazard.

It was agreed that Shepway District Council – as owners of the land – and Hythe Civic Society would work in partnership on the project and they have done so, with the support of The Right Worshipful Mayor of Hythe, Michael Lyons.

At the end of 2011 three contractors were briefed to provide ideas on how to improve the Square and Hythe Civic Society applied for, and were awarded, funding from Sainsbury’s S106 monies to cover the cost.

Costs have been met in full by S106 monies.

Stephen Bailey Landscaping was the chosen contractor.

The project was originally intended to include all of Mackeson Square but negotiations with Kent County Council failed to agree on the inclusion of the existing pedestrian footway.

In April 2015, Hythe Civic Society, in partnership with Shepway District Council, carried out a public consultation exercise to elicit opinion on the proposal to re-generate Mackeson Square. All responses were carefully considered and, as a result, several changes were made to the design.

The result

The Square is now transformed. The existing paving slabs have been removed, new hard landscaping has been put in place – including pathways across the space – and the remaining area turfed with good-quality grass and a new tree planted.  This is a low-maintenance solution, not requiring constant repair when tree roots grow near the surface. The existing shrubs in peripheral areas and in the triangular bed to the west of the square have all been removed and replaced with a simpler, homogeneous, planting scheme.  The emphasis is on sustainability. 

The existing benches have been refurbished; new litter bins and bicycle stands installed; and new lighting scheme incorporated.

It is now an attractive, light, welcoming area, visible from the road, with a new surface and soft landscaping, which provides an open vista to the High Street to attract passing visitors into the town.  It also provides a green space in which residents may sit, rest and picnic or just enjoy as they walk through. It is hoped that the more open aspect of the Square will deter anti-social behaviour.

Installation of an interpretation board highlighting the importance of the Mackeson Brewery in the history of Hythe is planned.

Co-ordinator of the project on behalf of Hythe Civic Society, Sally Chesters, said:

“It is pleasing to see how quickly people have taken to using, and clearly enjoying, the new area. Seeing this new green space close to the High Street being so well-used has made it all really worthwhile.”

Leader of Shepway District Council, Cllr David Monk, said:

“I would like to thank Hythe Civic Society for proposing and overseeing the improvements to Mackeson Square.  It has totally transformed this small, but important corner of Hythe.

These improvements were possible thanks to the conditions imposed when we granted planning permission for the new Sainbury’s store. This ensured that funding from the development was put back into the community for improvements that local people said they wanted. It’s just one example of how the planning system can help give something back.

I am sure the new-look Mackeson Square will be enjoyed and appreciated by all.”