Category Archives: Transport

Comments on Design South East’s “More Faversham” report  

I was pleased to see the Design South East report on “More Faversham” and hope very much that it will serve to guide discussion about the future of the town.

I was both pleased and concerned to see so much of the Space Syntax analysis featured. Pleased, because it seems to have resonated with the workshop participants and concerned because I would have liked to have known of its inclusion in advance so that I could have proofed the images and accompanying text. Most concerning is the “Closed” analysis on p13, which is incorrectly described in the text below. This has already alarmed many people when it was discussed at yesterday evening’s Town Council meeting (see my note below). In addition, the image quality on pp10-15 is poor when it could easily – and should – have been much clearer.

I hope the comments below can be addressed in the next draft of the report, especially since issues like p13 can wrongly detract from an otherwise impressive report.
And I hope very much that d:se will be retained to provide continuing, and much needed, support going forwards, both in terms of “big picture thinking” but also in the scrutiny of development proposals through a “design review” process.
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Comments on ds:e “More Faversham” report
p6 should say:
Apart from some challenging topography on the north-west side (Dark Hill and Davington Hill), Faversham…

not:
Apart from some challenging topography on the north-east side, Faversham…

pp10-15 The image quality is poor. Space Syntax can supply print-quality images.

p10 Should say “Space Syntax” not “Space Syntax Ltd”. Add “Space Syntax © 2016” to each image.

p11 Delete this page – it doesn’t add to the argument since similar points can be made for the 3km analysis on the next page.

p13 Delete this page – the purpose of this analysis is not to suggest that the bridge might be pedestrian-only but rather to describe the likely impact on traffic patterns while the bridge is closed for construction. As it is, it is a technical argument that is not relevant to the general nature of the overall document.

p15 rewrite paragraph as follows:
“By combining their spatial scores for shorter and longer journeys, it is possible to categorise streets in terms of which are more important for “walking”, “driving” and “cycling” or a combination of different modes. Red streets score highly for both walking, cycling and driving, and this indicates that their design needs to cater for each type of user. Note that the A2 is in this category. Many of the key walking and cycling routes run north-south, and this could help promoting walking and cycling to the station and town centre from new housing at the town’s southern edge.”

p18 changes in bold italics:

Enhancing the A2 
As growth occurs to the south of the A2, then the role of this major route needs to be re-evaluated to reflect its new place as a main street within the town, rather than as a highway passing by it. Improved crossings, lower speeds and a more pedestrian- and cycling-friendly environment will all be needed to ensure this new town street does not act as barrier, dividing the old and new parts of the town.

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A new link between the M2 & A2: issues & options

There has been increased discussion about a new link between the M2 and A2 in Faversham. I looked at this a couple of years ago, studying two options and considering the issues these raise. 

The first option, Option A, runs between Junction 6 in the south east and the Western Link in the north west. The second, Option B, runs approximately north-south from the Western Link to a new junction on the M2:

The first issue to consider is the length of each route since longer routes will typically be more expensive to construct. Option B is shorter:

The second issue is the cost of the junction at the M2. Option B requires an entirely new junction whereas Option A makes use of the existing Junction 6:

The third issue concerns the impact of each route on historic buildings. Option A runs close to St Peter & St Paul Ospringe:

The fourth issue to consider is the design of the route itself. A fast suburban highway or a slow-speed urban street? Both can carry the same volume of vehicles. It’s a question of visual character, of safety, of air quality, of pedestrian and cycle friendliness and of junction capacity. Slower streets beat faster roads on every count. 

Option A could be designed as a street serving buildings either side of it. These could include industrial, job-creating buildings eg warehouses, located closer to the motorway, that would free up the current warehouses on the north-west side of town to be redeveloped as housing. Option B could also be designed as a slower route, with buildings along parts of its eastern edge and even some on its western edge.

The fifth issue concerns directness and topography. Option A is indirect with multiple level changes whereas Option B is straight and generally level:

The sixth issue is the impact of each option on the environment. Both pass through high quality landscapes but Option B passes close by, and partly through, the Syndale Conservation Area:

For this reason I developed a variant of Option B, which avoids the Syndale Conservation Area:

Technically Option A in red is a boulevard (because it is an orbital route) not an avenue (which would be a radial route). So I have called it “Faversham Boulevard”.

Option B in blue and Option C in red are closer to being radial routes so I have called these “Faversham Avenue”.

It need not be an either/or choice between Faversham Boulevard and Faversham Avenue. Both could be constructed, which would give the town resilience in the event that one of the motorway junctions were out of action (eg because of accident/repair).

There might also be a new public square where the two routes meet. 

After all, it’s what towns have done for millennia. 

But is the link even needed in the first place? Is the answer to traffic problems to keep building roads? Don’t new roads just generate more traffic? My view is that, if it is just a road that is built then, yes, it will just create more traffic. However, if it is a slow-speed street, lined with buildings and providing connections into neighbouring developments then it is an entirely different and potentially beneficial proposition. 

As settlements grow they need to provide new main streets to add to the existing network of primary routes. Secondary routes then connect off the primary network, interlinking to form a network of local streets. This hierarchy of primary and secondary streets allows new commercial uses to be focused on the main streets so that they can both be accessed by local people and can benefit from passing through traffic. It’s how traditional towns work. 

Just building secondary residential streets and bypasses is not traditional and does not make commercial sense. 

Far from seeing these new routes as bypasses or relief roads, my view is that any new, primary link should be designed as part of Faversham’s network of main streets, designed for all modes of transport, lined by trees and buildings, with vehicles moving at a sedate and people-friendly pace, not thundering through. 

Therefore, rather than displacing the problem of traffic onto “relief” roads we need to embrace it and transform it by building main streets. 

From “No you can’t” to “Yes we can”: time for a positive approach to cycling in Faversham

Faversham Town Council needs to be careful not to be sending mixed messages about cycling. It’s clear from Faversham Future Forum comments that new development in the town needs to support cycling. If this is the case then, to be effective, cycling needs to be supported throughout the whole town. And this includes, in my opinion, the town centre itself.

So I think it’s counter-productive to promote a ban on town-centre cycling.

Cycling in pedestrianised areas
There’s no reason a pedestrian area has to ban cycling. This blogpost is worth a read:
https://aseasyasridingabike.wordpress.com/2014/03/03/cycling-in-pedestrianised-areas/

It describes the range of measures to be found in pedestrianised areas throughout the UK and offers guidance on how to promote safe cycling in them.

Here are four short extracts:

“The standout message, therefore, is that cycling behaviour naturally adapts itself to pedestrian environments…The evidence shows that we can trust people to make the right decisions.”

“The rationale for these bans – or the refusal to lift them – is usually a single incident (or even just an anecdote) about a near miss, or a collision, involving a pedestrian and a someone cycling. This is a poor basis for making policy, and, if applied to the road network as a whole, would lead to the wholesale closure of roads to motor vehicles.”

“East Street, in Horsham, is now closed to motor vehicles between 10:30am and 4:30pm each day, but with cycling still permitted. For these six hours, it’s a pedestrianised area, with cycling in it. After two years, there hasn’t been a single incident involving cycling, or complaint (as far as I am aware). There have been only two (slight) pedestrian injuries, both involving motor vehicles, outside of the ‘pedestrianised’ hours. It works well.”

“However the background assumption in the UK seems to be that cycling is ‘a problem’, that needs to be clamped down on, and eradicated in pedestrian areas, even where there is scope for its introduction.”

Cycling in Faversham
I took a look again at the reporting of the Local Engagement Forum in 2015 when cycling in the town centre was discussed. There is a large number of comments beneath the article that are worth a browse because they speak about a wide range of relevant experiences. A warning, though, some are rude about councillors, sorry:
http://road.cc/content/news/164361-faversham-councillors-keen-rid-town-centre-arrogant-and-fast-cyclists

Of course anti-social cycling should be tackled. But that is no reason to put a blanket ban around all cyclists. In the same way the odd misbehaved person on a bench is no reason to ban sitting in the town centre.

A thought: by banning cyclists from riding or pushing their bikes across the town centre the Town Council, Swale Borough Council and Kent County Council are forcing cyclists to ride on the B2040 inner ring road, with its hostile traffic and substandard cycle infrastructure. It’s hardly surprising there are so few cyclists in Faversham when these are the conditions that cyclists face.

A vision for the future of Faversham town centre
If we follow what the research shows, rather than what anecdotes assume, then a vision for the town centre should promote both cycling and sitting – as well as a new, time-limited parking regime that encourages vehicle use whenever the town centre gates are open.

We have to stop saying no and start saying yes.

A new Traffic Order for the town centre
This vision can be achieved through a rewriting of the Traffic Order for the town centre. Since a new Traffic Order would need to be written to paint double yellow lines around the Guildhall (the previous one expired last year, two years after it came into force) the opportunity could be taken to follow a different and far-sighted approach.

Does Faversham’s Town Council have the vision to seize this opportunity? Or will it continue to say “No (parking), no (cycling), no (sitting)”?

Faversham Town Council votes for Yellow Lines around the Guildhall

It isn’t always that expert advice aligns with public opinion. So, when it does, how should a town council respond? 

With former presidents of the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Royal Town Planning Institute against the painting of yellow lines around Faversham’s historic Guildhall, as well as knighted architects and the chairman of the Academy of Urbanism, you might take notice of the issue. 

When 85% of people voting in a public poll also oppose the idea you would do well to sit up and pay attention. 

But what did Faversham Town Council do this evening?
Quite the opposite. It voted to ignore both the experts and the public. It voted to deface a cherished building by painting yellow lines around it; yellow lines that will continue to allow people to park in front of the building; that will leave us all staggered at the gall of our elected representatives.

For yellow lines 6
Abstain 4
Against 2 (Belsom, Hook)

20s Plenty for Faversham_Notes from Joint Transportation Board, 19th December 2016

MOTION
To accept the recommendations of the Working Group’s report:

1. A 20mph limit across the whole of Faversham to include required signage, social engagement and self-enforcing traffic calming.

2. Fund-raising to meet the expected cost of 60K

3. A town-wide consultation.

4. Ongoing monitoring to identify where compliance is achieved and where further work may be required.

5. The working group’s ongoing involvement in the implementation process.

6. Support of an independent consultant with experience of devising 20mph schemes that deliver.

See full report on pp69-85 of the Joint Transportation Board papers.

PROPOSER
Whiting
Congratulate group on thorough report.
First such working party.

Fully support broad scope of all the recommendations

Particularly the ongoing involvement of the group.
Leave to officers to consider further.
Like to see this come back to the JTB as quickly as possible.
A very good job, very well done.

CHAIR
Bowles
Draw attention to Helen Whately MP letter.

COMMENTS FROM SWALE BC AND KENT CC MEMBERS
Simmons
Member of working party.

Congratulate Amanda Russell on presentation.

Shows how passionately people in Faversham feel about this.

Wanted the report to come sooner to the JTB but also wanted to a thorough job.

Encourage JTB to be brave.

Understand it’s controversial, especially A2.

But needs to be done, esp because of future development.

At present there’s very little development south of the A2.
In the future, the A2 will become an internal road. No longer a bypass.
Something needs to be done and now is the time to progress this.
Air quality – lots of evidence that slowing vehicles so that there is less starting and stopping leads to better air quality.
In summary, there are implications for budgets but ask JTB to be brave and give this its full backing.

Henderson
Also a member of group.

Learned a lot through the process.

As you learn more, you learn how important it is.

A2 is important. Will no longer be a peripheral road.

Abbey School bridge – an alarming number of people are not using the bridge.
Not a simple safety issue.

Safety is important.

But its also about pollution.
It’s also about walking.

20mph for cars helps people make a 20minute walk across Faversham.

Will improve potential for cycling.

Just back from Bristol – heading towards 20mph and safe to walk.
Will bring a major benefit to everyone living in Faversham.
There is more than one stage in the process.

Creating a 20mph limit is the first step. Identifying other areas is the next step.
Hope committee will give it its full support and urge KCC to give it support and funding.

Baldock
Whereas supportive of all the recommendations, concerned some parts of borough going ahead without others.

Need to start looking at process for implementing across the borough.

It’s taken one year for Faversham so it will take many years for Sheppey and elsewhere.

Chances of getting KCC to fund this are virtually nil. Maybe community grant.

This council should make a decision to fund borough-wide.

£150-180k borough wide is worth serious consideration.
Propose amendment to make borough-wide.

Whiting
Accept amendment.

Macdonald
Also support this.

Catching up the USA – with restrictions.

Cost – don’t want to hear they haven’t got money.

£35-60k is a good investment

Get from enhanced value of land?

Well done to Faversham.

Palmer
I fully agree with everything that’s been said.

Down to JTB to grasp it and make it happen.

Only thing is enforcement.

It won’t stop persistent speeders.

Need to put pressure on enforcement authorities to make sure there’s proper enforcement.

Harrison
1. AQMA at Ospringe

What is SBC doing about it?

2. Enforcement – shouldn’t stop us pursuing things. Once it’s down to a few, police may let us have stingers.

Mulhern
Red dots worry me.

Four hot spots. Clusters are at pedestrian crossings.

We need pelicanised crossings as a quick fix.

Forbes Road is dangerous if a bus is turning.

All can be fixed with pelicanised crossings.

Other hotspot is St Mary’s Road.

But I support the scheme and would like the quick fix if we can get it.

Hunt
Congratulations.

Iwade looked at 20mph. Has money for signs. But Parish Council voted against as speeds were 26mph. Needs physical measures.

Pugh
Congratulate group – v professional.

Pity I wasn’t able to do it around schools.

There is a groundswell around UK.

Need enforcement – works extremely well in Minster. It works.

COUNTY OFFICER
Blackburn
Tend to work more in operations.

If someone else from transport came here then they would want to take it on. V good work.

Not much difference in accident rates between signals and zebras.

Need clarification on build up from 30 to 60.

Need further discussion about A2. Not saying impossible but needs further work.

CHAIR
Bowles
If approved, technically goes to KCC cabinet but should also go to Swale cabinet.

PROPOSER
Whiting
The support of people in the room is testament to the quality of the report.

VOTE TAKEN
To accept the recommendations of the Working Group’s report with an amendment to pursue a 20mph limit on residential streets across the borough.

Agreed unanimously.

Backwards plans for Newcastle’s Blue House Roundabout

Newcastle City Council’s plans for the Blue House Roundabout are appalling and unnecessary.

I know the junction and have walked and driven across it more times than I can remember. The last thing it needs is what is proposed and I intend to do what I can to help stop the scheme.

There is already a significant body of local opposition to the proposals, for example:

https://wordsmiths2801.wordpress.com/2016/08/13/self-loathing-on-a-city-scale/

“At present, it’s a busy, but functioning, junction occupying a particularly striking location – the intersection of two broad avenues of lime trees, some 130 years old, which cross the historic open spaces known as Duke’s Moor, Little Moor and the Town Moor. These spaces belong to the hereditary Freemen of Newcastle upon Tyne, who have been exercising their right to graze cattle here for a thousand years or so. They form a green belt around the city centre and make its inner suburbs surprisingly pastoral.”

Facebook and Twitter are both active:

Yet the more weight that can be brought against these unnecessary, expensive and car-centric proposals, the better.

Don’t let this nonsense be foisted any further. Take Newcastle forwards not backwards.

Faversham Guildhall in Bloom

How can the space around the Guildhall in Faversham be improved?

How can the heart of the town look more attractive to residents and visitors alike?

How can vehicles be prevented from parking outside and blocking the view of the historic Guildhall?

How can outdoor dining be better accommodated?

How can more safe space be made for pedestrians?

In response to these questions Morrison Brink Stonor Architects has developed a proposal to extend the stone plinth beneath the Guildhall, thereby removing the space available for vehicles to park there. And we’ve added planters to further dissuade drivers.

This is a first sketch of the design concept. The planters could be differently shaped. They could be replaced with bollards. They could incorporate benches. There could be more of them or fewer of them. They could be on lockable wheels. Or the market could work around them.

There will be a cost to extending the plinth but the planters could be put in place first.

It’s a vision of how Faversham could be. And of course it’s a pleasant alternative to painting double yellow lines around the Guildhall, lines that won’t even stop vehicles parking in front of the Guildhall because Blue Badge holders will still be able to park on them.

Next steps are to consult with the Town and Borough Councils, Faversham Society and people generally. We’ve taken some initial soundings and had positive responses. Quite rightly several people said this could only go ahead if it didn’t interrupt the market. We have had an initial meeting with the Market Manager and the idea was well received since it makes the market bigger and better by removing vehicles and parking.