Category Archives: Yellow Lines

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)

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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.

Yellow Line painters forestalled

Better news on Yellow Lines at this evening’s Town Council meeting. Prof Harold Goodwin asked a good question, reminding the Council about the weight of public and expert opinion against the Yellow Lines and asking the Council not to paint lines around the Guildhall.

Cllr Wilcox, reading the temperature of the room, agreed to take the subject back to the next meeting of the Public Realm Group.

Not yet a victory. But a reprieve all the same.

Faversham – a town under attack from within

The great appeal of Faversham – to those of us born here as well as those of us who have chosen to make this our home – is both its immense historic beauty and its wonderful people.

Yet both Faversham’s good looks and culture are under attack – and, however unwittingly, this town council is leading the charge:

– defacing Faversham’s historic landscape with yellow lines

– removing benches so we have nowhere to rest and to talk to each other

– proposing to replace a pedestrian friendly zebra crossing with a car friendly pelican crossing

talking about banning cyclists.

What evidence is there that any of this is needed? What real evidence exists? And what kind of a town will be created if all of this happens?

I was, as you might imagine, most disappointed to read in the minutes of its last meeting that the Public Realm Group wishes to paint yellow lines around the Guildhall. As one of Faversham’s most important buildings, the consequence of this action will be highly damaging. The proximity of the yellow lines to the plaque that honours the valour of Sir Philip Neame will create additional visual harm. 

This matters. People love Faversham for its historic beauty. They spend their money here when they have a choice to go elsewhere because they like the look of the place and they enjoy the social experience. They encourage other visitors to do the same. Our economy relies on our good looks.

When, as a result of my intervention, it was agreed in 2014 not to paint the lines around the Guildhall, I was given the reassurance by Brian Planner at Swale BC that the impact of the lines would be carefully monitored. Can you therefore tell me:

1. What studies have been undertaken and what evidence have these generated to describe the effects that the lines have had on parking behaviour in central Faversham?

2. Where is this evidence documented?

3. How has this evidence been used to reach the conclusion that more yellow lines should be painted?

I see many unfortunate things in my job and I try not to be shocked but this situation troubles me greatly. To encircle the Guildhall with municipal yellow lines is to twist the knife in a wound that was created when yellow lines were first painted last year and repainted earlier this year.

These lines are a scar on Faversham’s historic beauty. This episode casts the actions of Faversham Town Council in a poor light. 

The lines are not needed. People don’t observe them. The police say they would prefer not to have them. The suggestion that emergency services can’t access all sides of the building simply does not stand up to the briefest of conversations with a firefighter. 

In town and in the outside world I am sorry to report that Faversham’s actions have drawn enormous criticism. Painting yellow lines has been opposed by people both locally and internationally. It has been described variously as “crude and destructive”, “degrading”, “defacing” – and as “bureaucratic vandalism” – not only by people in the streets of this town but by former presidents of the Royal Town Planning Institute, the Royal Institute of British Architects and The Academy of Urbanism. These people know what they are talking about.

Imagine a doctor telling you that you have serious health issues. High cholesterol. Poor circulation. That these are treatable if you change your lifestyle. But fatal if you don’t. What would you do?

So it is with the design of Faversham’s town centre. The social and economic health of the town is threatened. So why does the Town Council continue to pursue this brutal course of action? Why won’t it listen? Why won’t it engage with people who are experts in their field and who are telling it that it need to change its tack? Why won’t it listen to the thousands of local voices who don’t want yellow lines? Why did it only listen to a few who said they did?

And, at last, the Faversham Society has shown its colours in opposition to yellow lines.

If councillors believe what they are doing is in the public good then they are deceiving not only themselves but the people of this town that they represent. 

I urge town councillors and members of the Public Realm Group to look to their consciences and ask whether the paltry consultation exercise that was undertaken when the yellow lines were first proposed stands any test of rigour, especially in the light of the overwhelming opposition to the yellow lines that was revealed during the campaign that I have led during the last two years.

On that basis alone can the council or anyone it represents have confidence that these other measure coming forward are in the town’s best interests?

I ask the Town Council not to approve the recommendations of the Public Realm Group and, instead, to direct that group back to the drawing board in pursuit of common sense and the general good of this great town. 

Getting rid of yellow lines – if Horsham did it then why can’t Faversham?

Look at this beautiful image of Horsham in West Sussex…

Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 21.24.50

The street is paved in high quality materials. There are no yellow lines. There’s planting. It looks like a place you’d like to be in.

What more could any place want?

Look at the trees in planters – they’re moveable. They can be placed anywhere according to the needs of the day. They can be moved by the emergency services if they’re ever in the way.

This is the benefit of careful design: thinking the problem through and finding a solution that works under many different scenarios. The elegant hand of beauty.

And isn’t this exactly what Faversham needs too?

What is especially remarkable and relevant for Faversham is that East Street in Horsham didn’t always look this pretty:

Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 21.25.42

Look at the double yellow lines, the tarmac, the dull municipal road signage. The single tree. The heavy hand of plodding transport planning.

If Horsham can get rid of its yellow lines then why can’t Faversham?

The answer is: we can. We just need to choose to do so.

We need to accept that there are other, and better, ways to control parking that respect the historic fabric of the town, that celebrate life and that seek the best solution for the place – not the dull, municipal average.