Bess Browning of Kent Messenger reported  that the referendum on the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan had approved it,

“88% vote in favour of the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan. 5,418 votes cast for yes with just 706 for no.”

Turnout figures…
Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan 42.28%
Faversham Local Elections  42.94%

The Society will remain vigilant and continue to scrutinise planning applications.

 

KCC Draft Freight Action Plan

Letter sent to
Transport Strategy Team,
Planning and Environment Division,
Kent County Council,
Invicta House,
County Hall,
Maidstone,
Kent ME14 1XX

We are responding to your invitation to comment on the draft Freight Action Plan.  What we want to say doesn’t fit into the questionnaire format so would you please accept this letter as our response.

It is not easy for Counties to control lorry movements using the limited powers available to them within the existing legal framework. The KCC Freight Action Plan makes a fair stab at the problem, drawing together a number of measures that have already been implemented and suggesting a couple of new proposals. But they are not very specific: the document is vague on the details and gives no timescales for implementation. I suggest we confine our response to asking questions rather than questioning the aims or the policy as such.

The Society strongly supports the efforts of the KCC to control undesirable lorry movements together with inappropriate overnight lorry parking. The draft Freight Action Plan mentions several measures that are already in place. However, we would like the draft to be clearer on the new ones so we can comment sensibly on what is being proposed. Our main queries are as follows:

1. What is the total capacity of the proposed new network of lorry parks and how does it measure up against existing facilities? Could the Plan say where they are to be located, and what is the timescale for implementation?

2. The Freight Journey Planner will be useful for operators who don’t know the local road network, especially those based overseas. Could the Freight Action Plan please explain whether there is a strategy for promoting its use among operators and how it will work?

3. The Plan refers to a proposed connected/autonomous vehicle control corridor on the A2/M2 corridor. Could the Report please make clear who is implementing the plan and what is the timescale?

4. Could the Plan prioritise new areas for implementing Lorrywatch schemes?

5. Could the Plan please specify what options are available for Faversham, whose core network of medieval streets is particularly vulnerable to the environmental impact of heavy goods traffic?

We look forward to your reply….

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Background

The KCC Freight Action Plan Consultation Draft can be downloaded from the KCC web site at kent.gov.uk/freightactionplan. The Plan aims to reduce the impact of growing road freight traffic on local communities. It has been prepared by KCC staff under the direction of the Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport Matthew Balfour. The deadline for responses is 12 March 2017.

What the Plan proposes

There are five main actions, most of which are already taking place. Paraphrased, they are:

1. Tackling the problem of overnight lorry parking

2. Finding a long-term solution to Operation Stack

3. Confining HGV routeing where possible to the strategic road network

4. Protecting local communities by restricting access

5. Planning and development control of potentially harmful freight-generating land uses.

Overnight lorry parking

A survey in September 2016 showed that around 700 lorries are illegally parked overnight on principal roads in Kent. The greatest concentration occurs in Swale around the Port of Sheerness. Ashford Borough Council already issues warning notices and penalty charges for illegal lorry parking, and may clamp frequent offenders. Highways England is proposing an overnight lorry park with 500 spaces at its Operation Stack site.

The Action Plan says the KCC ‘is developing a strategy’ for a network of small lorry parks with suitable facilities for overnight stops. They will be priced so as not to compete unfairly with existing commercial sites. No numbers are quoted, there are no indications of where the sites might be, and there is no indication of the timescale for completion.

Operation Stack

Highways England has created the Operation Stack facility at Stanford West off the M20. It has 3600 spaces. Under extreme conditions this will not be enough and the police will still need to store another 3600 vehicles on the east-bound carriageway of the M20, but the west-bound carriageway will remain clear. In 2015 Dover introduced a smaller scheme on the A20 to protect the Town centre.

The KCC Action Plan supports these initiatives but seems not to propose any further action.

HGV routeing

The Department for Transport is promoting the use of new technology that connects vehicles electronically and allows autonomous (‘hands-off’) control.

The KCC Plan says that a scheme for the A2/M2 corridor is being developed, but does not make clear by whom, or by when.

But the KCC has adopted and developed a Freight Journey Planner on-line mapping tool that can be downloaded from freightgateway.co.uk/kent. It is said to feed into lorry satnavs. The map can be configured to show local height, width and weight restrictions, but not parking controls.

Local communities

In general, there are four ways of deterring lorries from entering sensitive areas unsuitable for heavy vehicles:

– width and height restrictions (on environmental grounds)
– height and weight restrictions (to protect bridges)
– advisory signs (flagging roads that are unsuitable for heavy vehicles – not legally enforceable)
– direction signs (encouraging lorries to use a particular route).

In 2012, KCC launched in collaboration with the police and local communities a Lorrywatch scheme in selected areas. Examples are Smarden, Sandwich and Westerham. Local residents are asked to report instances where lorries violate restrictions to the County’s Freight Officer. Repeated violations can lead to prosecution for UK-based vehicles but not those based overseas. Recently schemes have been added in which the Freight Officer contacts firms whose vehicles have been observed flouting the restrictions, but has no legal powers to enforce them. There is no mention of any scheme, mandatory or otherwise, in Swale.

The Freight Action Plan does not appear to recommend any new schemes under this heading.

Development control

A developer can be required by the KCC to produce a Transport Assessment that identifies potentially adverse impacts of freight movements associated with the scheme together with mitigation measures. KCC monitors applications for HGV operator licences and can object.

The Freight Action Plan does not propose any extension to these measures.

 

 

 

Restaurant at No 1 Standard Quay

The Faversham Society does not support the development of a restaurant in Building 1 of Standard Quay. The Society is disappointed that there is to be further gentrification at Standard Quay and that this important quayside townscape is being developed in the way that it is, the extent of car parking and retail in the areas around these iconic buildings detracts from them.  The development of the restaurant will further detract from the conservation area and an important part of Faversham’s maritime heritage is being lost as the quayside becomes a shopping and café/restaurant area. There are also legitimate concerns about the increasing flow of traffic in Abbey Street and a significant flood risk.

The best use for a conserved building is one as close as possible to its original use. A restaurant is far from that. Both the Society’s Planning Committee and the Board have spent time carefully examining the proposal. We have published the outcome of discussions in the Planning Committee (see below). The Board considered the Planning Committee’s analysis and with regret decided not to object to the planning application. Whilst we see no grounds for rejecting the planning application on planning grounds, and do not wish to see the Council required to pay further compensation to the developer, this does not mean that we support the application.

The Planning Inspector’s Decision in January 2014 rejected Swale’s case except on heritage conservation grounds. He pointed out that the “workmanship and utilitarian nature of the building envelope exemplified by the rough and ready quality of its finishes and internal spaces, all contribute to its special architectural interest and to its historic character as part of the wharf.”[1] The Inspector further pointed to the importance of the building’s “form and finishes  …which evokes the long history of the quay..”[2]

The Inspector expressed concern that in order to turn the building into a restaurant, the overall nature of the building would change and that “the overall nature of the building and of the conservation area would be significantly damaged.” The Swale Conservation Officer has secured detailed specifications, in the Heritage Statement, on the internal form and finishing and the Board consequently saw no grounds for rejecting the application.  The focus now shifts to compliance with the conditions placed on the planning permission.

The Society has invited Swale Planners and Enforcement Officers to a members’ evening in the Fleur Hall on February 16th at 19:30. We shall be discussing the Council’s approach to planning compliance and enforcement and we shall be pressing the Council to ensure that all the details so carefully defined in the application will be enforced.  In our view conditions should be attached to the decision – if the decision is to allow the application – and those conditions should be detailed, robust and enforced.

The Society  will object where we can identify planning grounds, once the planning permission passes the issue is compliance.  This may be an example where planning has secured good design – the proof will be in the degree of compliance. If the restaurant were to fail there may well be an application for change of use or further gentrification. The Society will remain vigilant.

The Planning Committee’s report accepted by the Board can be found here

[1] Para 8

[2] Para 10

 

Comments on Bearing Fruits

Two matters are central to our response:

First, the implications of new housing allocations on matters that were already of concern to the Society when we responded previously in August 2016; those concerns are further exacerbated by the new allocations.

Second, the pace of recent and current change in Faversham, which means that new information is now available to augment the Faversham Society’s previous submission. For example, the decision of Swale BC’s Joint Transportation Board to implement innovative measures in the form of a 20mph default speed limit across Faversham and the wider Borough is, we believe, highly relevant. In a similar vein, the Faversham Society’s proposal for a Faversham Neighbourhood Plan, with associated transport strategy and conservation area appraisals, is an example of robust and locally meaningful infrastructure planning that the modified Plan is currently missing.

You can read our full response here

The Society’s Submission on Bearing Fruits

The Board has discussed in detail the latest version of Swale Borough Council’s Development Plan. The Society has expressed it concern about the impact of the increased housing allocations on traffic and the historic fabric of Faversham.

The Society’s submission is available here Faversham Society Evidence on Bearing Fruits

The Brick Buildings by the Swing Bridge

BrickSwingAt its Board meeting on 16th August the future of the two brick buildings beside the swing bridge.

We believe that the two buildings are late 19th century and have in the past been used as shelter for bridge workers and users, storing tools, etc.  They do not include any operating machinery. We understand there is no intention to demolish the larger white rendered building on the NE side of the road, which houses the control mechanism.

Although the bridge structure and associated buildings can be considered to make a positive contribution to the conservation area, it is inevitable that there will have to be changes to accommodate a new bridge, and these two buildings are not major features. They are not listed, nor are they mentioned in the Faversham Conservation Area Character Appraisal (2004) or in the Undesignated Heritage Assets paper (co-authored by Anne Salmon) which was submitted as part of the evidence base for the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan. They are not mentioned by Arthur Percival in his History of Faversham Creek. While they have some intrinsic value for their historical and architectural relationship with the bridge, their loss would, in our view, cause less than substantial harm and this would be outweighed by the very significant public benefit of a new bridge.

The Faversham Society therefore considers that, on the basis of the evidence available, there are no compelling reasons to object on conservation grounds to the removal of these two buildings, provided that a full record of their ‘standing archaeology’ is made before and during demolition, and this record is made publicly available.

We look forward to seeing the proposed bridge design, and may have further comments at that stage.