Harold Goodwin elected chair of the Society for 2016-17

Last night at the Faversham Society AGM attended by just short of 100 people Harold Goodwin was elected Chair of the Society for 2016-17

I accept the responsibility with a suitable degree of trepidation.

Within 24 hours of discovering Faversham in October 1976 I had resolved to make it my home, Jack Harris had taken me to The Sun, introduced me as a friend and asked that I be treated as a local. I understand and appreciate that those of us for whom Faversham is our adopted home can never be truly local – we weren’t born or schooled here.

I have now  lived here for nearly 40 years and treasure all the things that make Faversham special and, I would argue, unique – the town and port, the marshes and the creek, its spirit and its history. I have been employed across East Kent, in London, Greenwich, Leeds and Manchester – but I have lived here continuously in the same square half mile in the heart of Faversham and always worked from here.

When I ran an adult education programme here I met Arthur Percival though Dorothy and along with others I encouraged him to teach – I regret that none of us thought to video his lectures. We forgot that heritage needs to be conserved. Dorothy recently shared with me one of Arthur’s drafts of our motto: “Sense the presence of the past, share the warmth of the present, savour the promise of the future.” Indeed, the warmth of the present and the promise of future…..

I joined the Faversham Society Board two years ago, urged by Arthur to do so. For forty years I have enjoyed so many things that are special about Faversham, we owe many of them to those who founded the Society and fought for our heritage. I felt that it was time for me to contribute to the Society rather than to take for granted the work of others. Over the last two years, under Michael’s leadership, the structure and procedures of the Society have been much reformed and the Environment Committee has been established and begun its work.

Our new Mayor has initiated the Faversham Future Forum, the “ 20’s Plenty” campaign is making headway, Bearing Fruits is being consulted on this summer and the referendum on the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan will be held in the autumn. The Society needs to be actively engaged across these agendas and the Board needs to engage with its members to determine and promulgate our collective view. The Society’s view is never likely to accord entirely with the views of any one member or trustee. I shall always be careful to distinguish between my view and that of the Society – I shall expect other trustees to do the same.

I have talked with many of the volunteers about engaging people in Faversham and the surrounding villages about what we want to conserve for our children and grandchildren – and we should ask the children too what they value about their home town. In the autumn we are organising, jointly with St Mary of Charity, a public lecture about the important wall paintings currently behind the organ (October 4th) and a members evening with James Freeman and Simon Algar to discuss what our planners can do to assist with the conservation of our heritage. (September 14th)

I look forward to my time as Chair of one of Faversham’s most important institutions.

You can find out more about Harold Goodwin at www.haroldgoodwin.info

Society welcomes Neighbourhood Plan examiner’s report

The Faversham Society broadly welcomes the report on the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan by the independent examiner, Mr Timothy Jones. The report recognises the value of the heritage and archaeology of the Creek, both for its own sake and as an asset for the town, and strengthens the protection and conservation of some of the most sensitive heritage sites. We particularly welcome the examiner’s comments on Swan Quay and the Purifier Building, and although we are disappointed that residential development has not been ruled out for Ordnance Wharf, we welcome the added protection to its heritage assets and setting.

While he has found it appropriate for the plan to allow some development, not all of which the Society would fully endorse, the examiner was impressed by the level of local interest in and commitment to the area’s built heritage, and found this reassuring for the future of those sites that most merit preservation.

The Board wishes to thank Dr Pat Reid, who represented the Society at the examination hearings in October 2015, and whose contribution is clearly reflected in the report, with its many references to archaeology and the addition of a new policy. We would also like to thank Ray Harrison, whose character appraisal highlighted the importance of Swan Quay as a particularly sensitive heritage site, and whose architectural and conservation expertise is noted with respect by the examiner.

The Faversham Society accepts all of the proposed amendments, with thanks to Mr Jones for his sensitive and thoughtful approach.

The report can be seen here.

 

12 Market Place – response to the Faversham News

The Society has sent the following letter to the Faversham News in response to comments about Faversham Town Council’s plans for 12 Market Place that were made by Mark Gardner in his column, Gardner Digs, on 7 April:

“The Faversham Society would like to state clearly that at present it neither supports nor opposes the Town Council’s proposed purchase of 12 Market Place.

“The Society has expressed support in principle for a museum or exhibition of the town’s remarkable collection of charters, and we made no objection on planning grounds to the application for change of use of the building. This is the full extent of our involvement. The council discussed its plans with us only informally and in outline, and the Society has not entered into any kind of partnership arrangement.

“Although the Faversham Society is referred to several times in the council’s recently published business plan, the Board of Trustees was not consulted on the preparation of this document and has not yet had an opportunity to consider it.”

An invitation to members to nominate possible Local Green Spaces

Are there green spaces in Faversham that members would like to see protected from development?

Within Local Plans, it is possible to protect areas of land from development by designating them as Local Green Spaces. These are areas that are important to a community (eg, sports or recreation grounds, allotments, open spaces in a built-up area) which are not already protected in some other way (eg, as town or village greens). They can be in private or public ownership.

In the draft Swale Local Plan, only one area in Faversham was listed as a Local Green Space (Woodland at the Knole and stream). At the Inspector’s hearing at the end of 2015, several representatives from Faversham and elsewhere complained that communities had not been asked to submit suggestions for Local Green Spaces. The Inspector accepted the criticisms and said that the process should be revisited.

This means there is an opportunity for more areas to be put forward for consideration as part of the revision of the Swale Local Plan. The Society is considering whether there are any spaces we should propose, and we would be interested in hearing from any member who would like to nominate an open space that they think should be protected. Please tell us by 15 April at the latest where it is – marked on a map if possible – and also who owns it, if you know.

Alternatively, you can make nominations directly to Swale Borough Council directly – see http://www.swale.gov.uk/nominate-local-green-spaces/ for more details.

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