Category Archives: Faversham Plan

The answer to Faversham’s housing needs: a “Local Place Partnership”?

The think tank ResPublica has today published a report on the creation of local plans to tackle the housing crisis:

The report, title “Devo Home” recommends the creation of “Local Place Partnerships”, dedicated to housebuilding and place-making.

Other recommendations include: 

– Citizens should be able to instigate Local Place Partnerships and take control of housebuilding and development in their areas. 

– the Homes and Community Agency should transfer surplus public sector land directly to Local Place Partnerships to ensure swift release and efficient use

– the use of local government pension funds to invest in new homes and development.

– where appropriate, the creation of cross-development plans that can take a ‘larger than local’ approach to development.

– introduce the use of Local Development Orders to capture the uplift in the value of land and offset the cost of affordable housing and infrastructure projects.

– trailblazing the use of new technology and methods to engage communities and give them real power over the shape and direction of their areas.

Does any of this sound like a Faversham Plan created through a Faversham Conversation? I think it has many echoes that reflect a common need among communities to reshape the way that local planning in done – to move it off the back foot and to play a few strokes again. 

If it’s working for the England cricket team, then why mightn’t it work for Faversham?

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How to deal with Faversham’s pressing housing numbers – get on the front foot!

Faversham is attractive to housebuilders. Its chocolate box good looks put it ahead of Sittingbourne and Sheppey in the Swale Borough Council urban beauty parade. 
The planning inspector’s recent decision to allow housing south of the A2 – overturning Swale Council’s refusal – has opened a stable door.

The housing is coming!

Swale Borough Council’s quite reasonable response is to commission a high level “Character Assessment” to make it more difficult for developers to justify future proposals.

But the inspector’s decision means that the stable door has not only been opened but the horse may already have bolted. Character Assessment or not, even more housing is very likely.

And so – to borrow the analogy used by one speaker at this evening’s Local Engagement Forum – the Character Assessment may prove as useful as a chocolate fire guard.

If so, how should Faversham respond? Because it looks like the housing is coming.

Should we continue an “organic” approach (aka a haphazard, defensive and unpredictable one)?

My view is that we should skip off our back foot and get onto the front.

If the housing is coming then what Faversham needs is not an entrenchment but a plan for its future. Not just a housing plan but a plan for its education, health care, business, retail and civic facilities. A plan to take Faversham forward for the next 50 years. A plan for the place as a whole, not only its “objectively assessed housing needs”.

And this means an infrastructure plan for transport, energy, water, waste and data.

Otherwise Faversham faces an ever tightening noose of traffic gridlock. To counter this, it is highly likely that roads will be needed; perhaps another junction with the M2; a public transport plan; an active travel plan to promote walking and cycling.

A Faversham Plan to set an agenda for the town:

– to take to the market

– to promote sites that the market may not have yet seen the viability of

– to coordinate a future for the town in a way that may never have been done before but which is needed now more than ever because of:

– the special circumstances that have been created by the pressing national housing needs

– the national government’s will to deliver housing numbers

– and Faversham’s particular attraction to housing developers.

Housing and transport – the need for  a connected approach

At this week’s Faversham Town Council meeting, I believe Cllr Shiel Campbell was right to raise the debate about housing to the south of the A2. Cllr Ted Wilcox was right to call for an overall traffic plan.

Faversham’s transport and housing needs must be considered simultaneously, as the central elements of a Faversham Plan.

Here are my notes on how the Faversham Plan can be co-created by those who have been elected, by the electorate that put them in office and by a wide range of advisors that can support the process.

Connected issues.

Connected streets, parks and public places.

Connected thinking.

A Faversham Plan

Notes on a strategy for Faversham’s future. As is the Town of Kings, this is a work in progress. 

1. Objectives
Harder working, longer lasting & better looking policy outcomes.

2. Principles
Consistency as far as possible with the existing policy framework.

BUT challenging where views are inconsistent.

Participatory.

Listening.

Discussing.

Needs-based.

Anticipating change.

Acting to make change happen.

3. Participants
Residents.

Visitors.

Employers.

Organisations – education, business, healthcare, religious, sporting, cultural.

Town Council.

Borough Council.

County Council.

Member of Parliament – a national champion.

Independent experts: Academy of Urbanism, Design South East, English Heritage…

4. Process
Through continuous conversation:

– the Faversham Conversation.

Online and face-to-face.

Evidence-based.

Spatial: what goes where and how does it all connect together.

5. Scope
Spatial

Town-wide, not just the town centre.

Temporal
For the next decade, not just the next year.

6. Actions
1. Engage the participants.

2. Design the process – likely to include meetings, online comments, questionnairing, presentation/exhibition; then repeat…

3. Then begin.

7. Outcomes?
20mph.

More pedestrian crossings eg West Street, Dark Hill, South Street – St Ann’s. Other wards?

More walk to school.

More public life.

More sitting.

More conversation.

More serendipity.

Healthier.

Better for business.

More convivial.

More connected.