Bearing Fruits – the Inspector’s Interim Report

The Faversham Society welcomes the final report on the Inspector’s interim findings on the Swale Local Plan. We are pleased to see that, although housing targets have been increased from 540 to 776 per year, the much higher numbers demanded by some developers have not been accepted.

We are also pleased that the Inspector acknowledges the distinctive character of Faversham, and has confirmed the soundness of the plan’s two-area settlement strategy, with higher levels of development in the former Thames Gateway area and more modest development in Faversham and rural areas.

We are however concerned about the effect of any new developments on traffic in and around the town, and have written to Kent County Council to call for a road traffic plan for Faversham. We note that the impact of the higher housing target has yet to be tested against highway infrastructure models.

The Inspector says that Swale Borough Council has undertaken to prepare a heritage strategy, which she considers necessary to ensure that heritage policies are soundly based and consistent with the National Planning Policy Framework. I have written to Swale Borough Council to ask that the Society should be closely involved in the development of the heritage strategy.

YELLOW LINES IN FAVERSHAM TOWN CENTRE

YELLOW LINES IN FAVERSHAM TOWN CENTRE

Submission from the Faversham Society to the Public Realm Group of Faversham Town Council

There are concerns about parking around the Guildhall, and calls for yellow lines to be painted. The Faversham Society does not endorse the use of yellow lines anywhere in the town centre. In our view, they not only disfigure a heritage area, but are ineffective – people park on them regardless – and cause more problems than they solve.

The purpose of the yellow lines was to support the evening economy by allowing parking in the town centre. However, a lot of the space is being used for long-term and overnight parking, limiting the space available for customers of evening businesses – and, in particular, making it difficult for Blue Badge holders to find a space, especially in Preston Street.

It is questionable whether evening on-street parking is needed at all, except for Blue Badge holders, since the car parks are free in the evenings, have plenty of space, and are a very short distance away. Traders to whom we have spoken did not see the necessity for yellow lines, for this reason. The entire town centre could be made a no-parking zone, day and night.

However, there is a case for allowing brief parking during the daytime to enable quick shopping (eg, newsagents), visiting the bank, and dropping off and collecting bulky items. This would also benefit takeaways, daytime and evening. A reasonable period might be 20 minutes (this would tie in with a 20mph speed limit and be easy to remember). Those needing longer stays would be able to use the car parks, as now.

There is also a case for having reasonably-priced parking for business owners (eg, those who currently park around the Guildhall) in nearby car parks.

We ask the Town Council to vary the Traffic Order for the town centre (bounded by the Court Street and East Street entrances and the junction of Preston Street with Stone Street), such  that either:

  1. The entire area would be a no-parking zone at all times.

or

  1. Parking would be permitted at all times for a maximum of 20 minutes.

In either case, Blue Badge holders would still be permitted to park for a maximum of 3 hours.

Both of these options would need only signs at the entrances. All yellow lines could be removed, as the parking regulations would be consistent throughout the area.

We also ask the council to discuss with Swale Borough Council whether reduced-cost car park permits could be made available for town centre traders.

 

Response on planning application for 12 Market Place

Planning application:- 16/501352/full
re Change of use to exhibition space with ancillary retail use on the ground floor and Bl office use on the first floor
12 Market Place Faversham Kent ME13 7AE

The Faversham Society wishes to comment as follows:-

The trustees of the Faversham Society, the owners of 10-13 Preston Street, have been consulted, and initially expressed support for the scheme of the acquisition of exhibition space by the Town Council in principle, without access to any notice of the proposed change of use of 12 Market Place or subsequent planning application, at that stage. A majority of trustees voting on receipt of the notification of application have no objection to the proposed change of use of 12 Market Place, from the information currently provided, but would support several others who have expressed their opinion  that the period for consultation has not been long enough and that they would need further information during the period of public consultation and from Swale Borough Council to be satisfied that all the implications of the proposal have been fully presented to all interested parties.

Lower Thames Crossing Consultation

The Faversham Society is one of the largest civic societies in England, with over 1300 members. The Society is concerned about the growth of road traffic and its impact on our historic town, and has called on Kent County Council to develop a Road Traffic Strategy for Faversham.

Faversham is accessed by the M2 (junctions 6 and 7) and the A2. At the level of Faversham, the M2 has only 2 lanes and the A2 is a narrow single carriageway. The preferred route C for a new Thames crossing will put extreme pressure on the M2, which is already under strain. Junction 7 is at the limits of its capacity. There will also be pressure on the A2 as a diversionary route when there are problems on the motorway, as happens frequently. Extra traffic from the new crossing, on top of traffic growth from local developments, will have a damaging effect on traffic flows and congestion in and around Faversham, and on pollution levels. Parts of the A2 through Faversham already exceed permitted levels.

We also have concerns about the increase in freight traffic, since the M2 and A2 are not well-equipped for HGVs, and HGV parking in lay-bys and side roads is a serious problem. Currently, plans for lorry parks and Operation Stack facilities are focused on the M20 route, and there are no plans for the M2/A2 route.

In the consultation documents there is consideration of impact on the areas around the new crossing route, but we can see no impact assessments for the wider area. We would urge that impact assessments and mitigation are extended more widely, across the whole of the East Kent highway network, including the full length of the M2 and A2.

Yellow Lines around the Guildhall

The Council has been accused of dithering over yellow lines. The Faversham Society has previously expressed its concern about the painting of yellow lines around the Guildhall. The Society’s position was determined at our July 2015 Board Meeting

After some discussion over the merits of having/not having single/double lines the following proposal was put forward:- That the Faversham Society, does not endorse in heritage areas, the continued use of yellow lines and that a policy on this and street furniture be created.  A vote ensued with 10 votes for, 2 against and 2 abstentions and was duly carried.

We continue to urge the Council to undertake an urgent review of parking in the town centre.

The Faversham Society remains opposed to the painting of yellow lines in conservation areas and requests that a full review of parking and traffic management in the town centre is undertaken.

There are number of questions to be considered:

  • Is parking in the town centre after 18:00 desirable to support the evening economy?
  • Are yellow lines necessary in order to regulate where people park and for what period?
  • Enforcement is a major issue – will painting yellow lines achieve the changes in parking behaviour expected?

Yellow lines cause significant visual damage  in the historic core. A Traffic Order could be used to permit short term parking in the town centre after 18:00 to enable people to pick up takeaways in the town centre, and ensure that those parking for a longer period of time park in the car park.

It is also important that parking by the able bodied does not deny space for blue badge holders. Presently huge delivery vans regularly blocking Preston Street, forcing disabled drivers up on to the pavement, cyclists career the wrong way down the street scattering pedestrians who are forced to walk in the road.  It is frequently impossible for disabled drivers to park in Preston Street  after 18.00 hours, as the able bodied don’t use the  car parks, preferring to park in Preston Street denying space to those with disabilities.

Historic England provides relevant advice on yellow lines in historic area
Historic England (2008) Streets for All Parking Restrictions without yellow lines

Although the Society does not support yellow lines, we would point out that 50mm lines are all that is required in Conservation Areas.

In 2013 the Minister  Norman Baker said:
“No one wants to see unnecessary yellow lines blotting our towns and villages when there is an alternative. They are a clear eyesore that can be intrusive and can have a huge impact on the look and feel of our streets, particularly in historic town centres or conservation areas.
“I encourage local authorities to think about the use of restricted parking zones. They can be used to improve the visual impact of the street while providing clear information to motorists.”

Chapter 3 of the Government’s Traffic Signs Manual also provides relevant guidance on alternatives to yellow lines
www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/223943/traffic-signs-manual-chapter-03.pdf

12 Market Place and our Charters

The Board supports the creation of additional museums in  the town and the restoration of buildings of historic interested. We have not yet considered the planning nor the financial aspects of the current proposal and have neither endorsed nor objected to the current proposals.
At its meeting on 23rd February, the Board was able to consider the news that the Faversham Town Council is planning to purchase 12 Market Place to house our town’s remarkable collection of medieval charters, including the Magna Carta.
12MktPlace
The Society welcomes the Faversham Town Council’s initiative which will create a permanent exhibition space for the charters and provide an appropriate sustainable use for 12 Market Street following restoration and refurbishment; it is an important part of our heritage.  The Society supports in principle the creation of another museum focused on our remarkable collection of charters and the medieval period. This will complement the Roman collection in the Maison Dieu at Ospringe and the more modern collection in the Fleur.
We hope that the museums in Faversham will be able to evolve a joint ticketing system which will extend the length of stay in the town and attract more day visitors and tourists.
The Board did not have sufficient information to discuss either the planning or financial implications and we have therefore formed no opinion  on these aspects.
12KtPlace

A correction on ZF5

The Faversham Society was surprised to find itself invoked as a supporter of the ZF5 footpath proposals at the KCC panel enquiry on 22 February. While one of our Trustees gave evidence at an earlier enquiry in 2014, this should not be interpreted as endorsement from the Society as a whole. Our position on the current proposals was published on 15 February, prior to the enquiry, on this blog.

“It has come to our attention that the Faversham Society is being quoted as supporting the plans for the revision and reinstatement of footpath ZF5. The Society has not considered the revised  plans, we neither support nor oppose the proposal there having been insufficient time for the Society to consider the latest proposal.”

The Faversham Society’s comments on the proposed The Mall/A2/A251 roundabout

Submitted to KCC 09 Feb 2016

MallA251

The Board of Trustees of the Faversham Society would like to comment on the proposed alterations at the junction of the A2 and A251 as follows.

  1. The economic basis for the scheme is not clear. The main aim seems to be to increase capacity for vehicles approaching from the south along the A251, with little benefit for the residents of the Town or for users of the A2.  It would be helpful to make public the evidence that the roundabout scheme represents value for money, specifically in terms of the benefit-to-cost ratio, because the money could be spent on other schemes potentially with a higher yield, for example, a blanket 20 mph limit for the Town as a whole.
  1. There appears to be little benefit in safety terms at the site where the work is to be carried out, and as far as the most vulnerable road users are concerned, the risk could actually increase. A roundabout poses greater risks to pedestrians and cyclists compared with a signal junction, where safe crossing and turning opportunities can be provided.  It seems to us that a quantitative assessment using TRL accident prediction models in this case is vital.
  1. The scheme appears visually intrusive. The extensive road markings, signage and alignment changes are not sympathetic with the local townscape, particularly The Mall as the principal gateway to the Town.  The proposed chain link fencing around the south-west corner of the A251 junction is far from ideal.
  1. Finally, a general comment seems in order. Faversham is a medieval market town extensively zoned with conservation areas whose fabric is sensitive to continuing unchecked traffic growth.  The Society would welcome a clear statement about the County Council’s policy in this respect.  Residents look to the highway authority to develop policies that encourage people to shift from car usage to other modes of transport that are less damaging to the environment.  In broad policy terms, the scheme does nothing to promote other modes and may in fact accomplish the reverse, which in the long run is likely to be self-defeating.

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This Chairman’s Blog is designed to enable us to communicate our work and our policies to a wider audience

The Faversham Society was established in 1962 to preserve the heritage and fabric of the historic town of Faversham and its surrounding parishes. Our Society works to ensure that Faversham’s distinctive sense of place and its outstanding heritage features are not lost for our children and grandchildren. The Society is about to embark on a big conversation with the residents of Faversham, and those who value it as their market town and port, about what heritage means to us and what we wish our grandchildren to inherit.

You can find on the Society’s website details of our work and the facilities we maintain for our town, its residents and for visitors. The Society, run entirely by volunteers, is about heritage, it is about what we value that we inherited from our forebears and what we conserve and create for our grandchildren and their children to inherit. It will only be conserved and inherited if it is valued by future generations.

Our 1000 members receive a monthly newsletter but, until now, we have lacked a means of communicating easily and regularly with those, who whilst not members, care about our built heritage, our natural and cultural heritage. This Chairman’s Blog is designed to enable us to communicate our work and our policies to a wider audience and to be a point of reference for the Society’s position on issues as they arise.

1953 saw the first campaign to save Abbey Street, in 1955 Arden’s House was threatened  with demolition, the Abbey Street Preservation Society was formed in 1960 and the Faversham Society in 1962, in 1972 we bought the Fleur and the Fleur de Lis Heritage Centre opened in 1977. The purpose of the Society when it was launched in 1962 was to cherish the past, adorn the present and create the future and that remains our purpose.

Over the years we have worked and campaigned to conserve that part of the past valued by our members and by the wider community, developing it for our children’s children. You can read about some of our campaigns and our work in creating heritage for the future on the Society’s website.

The Society remain actively engaged in maintaining and creating heritage for the future and we know that 2016 will see many debates about the future of our town as it comes under pressure particularly from new housing and the traffic and congestion which comes with it. This Chairman’s Blog will present the Society’s official position on all of those issues affecting our heritage, past, present and future.

If you care about the future of our town and the conservation of our heritage so that it can be enjoyed by future generations then please consider supporting our campaigns and joining our society.

Michael Frohnsdorff

Chairman Faversham Society