In 2010 St Clere Trustees set 4 goals to achieve by the time St Clere turns 400 in 2030. We are now half way through. How are we doing with our four goals?
To flourish financially in order to preserve the heritage assets and natural assets.
Farming is no longer reliably profitable (even Dyson say they don’t make a profit on 35,000 acres of farmland) and therefore St Clere has diversified into events; including weddings, film shoots and festivals. From one event in 2009 to fifty events in 2019 we have welcomed approximately 200,000 people onto the estate.
The entire income from all the events from 2009-2018 paid for the essential once-in-a-century restoration of the Grade I listed manor house roof.
St Clere has spent £250,000 since 2010 making improvements to the forestry enterprise and hedgerows in order to improve the landscape and biodiversity of our district.
When budget allows, the next targets are to do essential work to preserve the Grade I listed garden buildings and improve the fences and field edges around the estate.
2. To support the local economy
Where possible St Clere uses local businesses for goods and services, providing many local companies with much of their custom. Events, such as festivals and filming, benefit local businesses from increased income when people stay, eat and shop in the area.
St Clere has initiated, completed and partially funded two fibre broadband schemes benefiting hundreds of local homes over the past ten years and improving connectivity for local businesses. These extensions to the fibre network which cross St Clere land have also enabled Openreach to extend even further into local communities.
10 local people are employed and many others work for St Clere as contractors.
2 apprenticeships were offered to local young people, both then took up full time jobs.
50+ people are employed in businesses based at St Clere.
8 local families live on St Clere in free or truly affordable housing.
3. To ensure the local community benefits from St Clere.
The team at St Clere work full time to keep the estate, properties and events running smoothly, but also when necessary undertake voluntary work on the public areas and roads around the district; clearing fly tipping and litter, fallen trees, flooding and snow. Charities and community groups have benefited by an estimated £250,000 since 2010 from using St Clere for events and fund raising. With a team of 1,500 volunteers across the Sevenoaks District, Care for our Community was launched from St Clere to make sure everyone was supported during the first Covid lockdown. We control access to the estate to prevent nuisance, littering and any negative impact on the fragile ecosystems we are trying to establish or encourage. At the same time, we have opened access and by arrangement locals can now enjoy walking, cycling, off-roading and horse riding on certain routes across the estate.
4. To be a leader in environmental management
We were proud to be one of the first estates to become a member of the Higher Level Environmental Stewardship scheme and will take the necessary steps to be one of the first to join any post-Brexit environmental schemes as they become clear. We are in the process of appointing a recognised wildlife charity to assess our biodiversity, advise on meaningful enhancements and oversee delivery of improvements.
Working with the Forestry Commission, we have bought our woodlands back into management, have planted over 40,000 trees and have begun the removal of thousands of trees suffering from Ash Die Back. Although woodlands always look worse before they look better, the work we are doing will lead to meaningful improvements in the landscape and biodiversity of the estate, not to mention contributing to essential carbon capture.
Green Energy from wood chip produced on the estate now heats St Clere and the surrounding cottages. Every property we have built also benefit from biomass heating.
Are these the goals you would have chosen? What do you think of the goals and how do you think we’re doing?