insideKENT Magazine insideKENT October 2018 Issue 79 - Page 166

NEWS HEMPSTEAD VALLEY CELEBRATING 40 YEARS – 1978-2018 AFTER MANY YEARS OF PLANNING, SAVACENTRE AT HEMPSTEAD VALLEY OPENED ON 17TH OCTOBER 1978. THE CENTRE OFFERED OUT-OF-TOWN SHOPPING MODELLED ON SUCCESSFUL COMPLEXES IN NORTH AMERICA AND EUROPE. THE LARGE HYPERMARKET AND FIRST OUT-OF-TOWN SHOPPING CENTRE IN THE SOUTH EAST WON MANY AWARDS, INCLUDING THE EUROPEAN AWARD IN 1980 FROM THE INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL FOR SHOPPING CENTRES FOR ITS CREATIVE ACCOMPLISHMENTS. THE CENTRE WAS INNOVATIVE AND UNIQUE, ATTRACTING CUSTOMERS FROM THE LONDON AND THE CONTINENT. The centre was built close to junction 4 of the M2 with easy access to the Medway towns, Sittingbourne and Maidstone. In 1979, centre director, David Peek, said: “We offer a new dimension in shopping with convenient free parking, reasonable prices, plenty of natural daylight and the novelty atmosphere of a market.” The late opening hours and the cut price petrol station and varied events staged supported their slogan ‘there is always something going on at Hempstead Valley’. Over 800 local people were employed, including mums who for the first time were able to return to work while fitting in with school hours. Su Button, marketing manager, manages the archives for the centre and has a gained a great insight into the history of Hempstead Valley. Su said: “Living locally in Medway, we regularly shop and dine at Hempstead Valley and when I was younger I enjoyed having birthday parties in the Food Court. I fondly remember the water features and fish pond. I have worked at Hempstead Valley for over a third of my life; our longest serving employee has 35 years under his belt. Our staff take great pride in their work and the centre has strong reputation.” Known as ‘Happy Valley’ to many, which is testament to its popularity, Hempstead Valley has attracted millions of customers over the past 40 years. To celebrate the centre’s 40th birthday, Hempstead Valley is looking back over its past – during October there will be displays of 166 vintage fashion, toys, cars and music, and Medway Council’s archive team will be displaying their archive photos along with others from the centre as longstanding customers enjoy reminiscing, particularly with regards to the fish pond! Celebrations will also look at the present and future, and local schoolchildren will be showcasing their ideas for the shopping centre of the future. Many people still affectionately refer to Hempstead Valley as the SavaCentre, but it was re-branded to Sainsbury’s in 2004. The centre has undergone a series of redevelopments including the M&S mall which was completed in 1992, and more recently The Venue development was built and is home to the restaurant quarter – Nando’s, Frankie & Benny’s, Bella Italia and Friendly Phil’s. There is also a Subway, Costa Coffee and Kent Reliance Building Society in this new development. A new TK Maxx opened in 2016 and JD Sports moved to a new, larger purpose- built unit this summer. In April 2018, planning permission was granted by Medway Council for an 80,000-sqft extension, to include five large new units and decked car park. If you would like to share your memories or photos of Hempstead Valley, please email them to Su Button: marketing@hempsteadvalley. co.uk. The entire centre team is looking forward to celebrating the success of Hempstead [^H[H]\Hو\YH[\[][[[K[\XY[^H[[B[\XY[[[B[QM  M ͂˚[\XY[^KB[\XY[^B[\XY[^B[\XY[^