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.
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Now is the time for a 20mph speed limit in Faversham

http://www.courier.co.uk/faversham-campaign-for-20mph-speed-limit-seeks-60k-council-funding/story-29573216-detail/story.html#GIISZ2M52UgmGS1A.01

Kent County Council typically over-designs and over-costs transport projects. In contrast, a 20mph speed limit can be implemented at a fraction of the price of conventional, car-centric solutions such as the hugely costly and unnecessary A2/Ashford Road roundabout.

Faversham has a clear “urban footprint” with a small number of ways in and out – and therefore a small number of places that need gateway signage. The Town Council has already identified the need to upgrade the gateway signage to update and improve the existing signs. It has already identified funding to do so. Adding a 20mph roundel to the gateway signage should now be part of the sign designer’s brief. By combining budgets in this way, more can be done with available resources.

Faversham needs more joined up thinking as well as a more joined up network of routes that are safe and convenient for walking and cycling. Now is the time for action.

Future generations will judge us on what we do next.

Free from Europe, the UK can chart its own course? Er, not really. 

Much has been made about the overly administrative nature of the EU. But If regulation is the price to pay for 70 years of peace and trust in the kindness of strangers then isn’t it better to be “bound” in red tape than wrapped in battlefield dressings? Isn’t it a price worth paying?

Supporters of Brexit suggest the UK’s withdrawal from the EU will help create a “free market”. But since the UK has now decided that some people will no longer be able to freely access trade and employment opportunities in the UK market, the UK won’t be a free market for them. Indeed it has never been a free market for anyone – including the British – and it never can be free either. The UK has always had, and always will have, regulations. Markets have rules. Free markets only exist when anarchy prevails. We call that situation a “free-for-all” and it’s usually an ugly sight.

What is much more likely is that the next two years or so will be filled with uncertainty as new rules are proposed, negotiated and eventually agreed. Having an overall smaller economy – and smaller still should Scotland leave – the UK will be the smaller trade party, and is unlikely to get any better trade relations with the EU than it currently has.

But what about the UK’s balance of trade with Europe? We might assume that the future will be based on the past but if Nissan moves from north east England to south west Italy then everything will be different. In other words, the rules will change and the future will instead be crafted in the shifting grounds disturbed by the UK’s exit. Perhaps not as ugly as anarchy but unedifying all the same.

And what of the idea that the UK might renew its links with the Commonwealth? “Renew” perhaps but again we shouldn’t expect the future to be anything like the past. Just ask a New Zealander if they remember their abandonment by the UK in the 1970s? Welcomed back with open arms? I doubt it. Made to work harder than ever because the UK’s need is now greater? More likely.

So if any of this is good for UK business and good for UK society then please show me how. I just don’t see it.

Notes from Swale Joint Transportation Board, 7th March 2016

20s Plenty comments
1. (missed name) Supports 20mph. Was an air ambulance paramedic. If there’s a crash at <20mph then a child gets up. A crash at 30mph there are fatalities.

2. Cllr Baldock – supports 20mph. Wants it borough-wide. Set limit first. Create zone second. (I didn’t fully understand this – by zone did he mean there would be associated works eg paving?)

3. Cllr Simmons – supports 20mph. Complimented presentation. Compact nature of Faversham suits it. Limited number of ways in to the town makes signage simple. People drive slower with 20mph limit even if all don’t drive below 20mph. Risk of delay if remit is borough-wide. Do Faversham first.

4. Cllr Henderson – v strongly supports 20mph. Don’t risk delay by making borough-wide. Do Faversham first. Faversham is not a through place like Sittingbourne so it will be easier. Congratulations on effective campaign, which has convinced Town and Borough councillors. People drive around 10mph slower with 20mph limit.

5. Cllr Harrison – impassioned people have had their say. Don’t make seat of pants decisions tonight.

6. Cllr Willcox – supports 20mph. Trial it in Faversham. It could be self-financing if it saves deaths.

7. Cllr Mulhern – v fully supportive. Motion tonight is to set up a working group, not to make a snap decision. Supports borough-wide but start in Faversham. His father was killed on a road crossing by a slow-moving vehicle so there will always be accidents.

8. Cllr Gates – supportive of what the Town Council says and does. 20 is plenty. Do one place at a time to learn from mistakes.

9. Cllr Truelove – supports 20mph. There’s a risk of snagging if it goes borough-wide.

Vote
8 in favour of Faversham working group.

6 in favour of borough-wide working group.

Worth noting that no one spoke against either motion.

Roundabout comments
1. County Engineer – a contingency allowance of c£50k had been made for diversion of services. Estimates have come back at c£400k. They are looking at mitigation steps to reduce the sum. In the past, 6-figure sums have been found to be 5-figure sums. Nevertheless the narrow window has been missed for removal of vegetation so the project can’t proceed this year. A decision has been made to put the project on hold.

2. Cllr Gates – wanted traffic lights because they provided crossings. One option had a crossing over the Mall and a crossing over the A2. Don’t alter the look of the entrance to historic town. Provide cycle paths. Provide controlled, lighted crossings. Local people in favor of lights, albeit narrowly. Look at it again. Benefits need to be not only for cars but also people and cyclists.

3. Cllr Prescott – supported lights. Others wanted roundabout. Engineer will now know where the utilities are. This will help in designing a new solution.

4. (missed name) – Go back to the drawing board. Roundabout not conducive. Not appropriate in a place where there’s pedestrians. Problem with the vote last time was there were 2 traffic light options and 1 roundabout option. Traffic light vote was split.

5. Cllr Mulhern – supports roundabout because has seen how effective they have been in Essex in helping flow. Best is to do nothing because we weren’t looking at Perry Court before. Ashford Road isn’t on mains drainage and works may need to take place. So shouldn’t do a roundabout before then: premature.

6. Cllr Henderson – thank goodness it’s on hold. 20mph will create more junction capacity so – should be tried first. We need solutions that promote walking and cycling.

7. Chair – KCC may come back with new proposals.

Double success for Faversham! 20s Plenty supported & A2/A251 roundabout rejected

20mph speed limit
The Swale Joint Transportation Board this evening approved a motion to set up a working group to look at how a blanket 20mph speed restriction can be implemented across the whole of Faversham. The JTB expressed a strong view that the working group should also investigate a borough-wide 20mph limit.

This decision is a significant success for the 20s Plenty for Faversham campaign, and for Faversham Town Council, which supported the campaign.

A2/A251 roundabout
It was also reported to the JTB that the proposed, and highly unpopular, A2/A251 roundabout is on hold because cost estimates for services diversions have come back at around £400k against a budget allowance of around £50k. The 20s Plenty campaign spoke afterwards with Kent County County Highways Engineer and requested a working session before any new recommendations are made so that local views can be input and a solution can be co-created.

Thanks go to Faversham Town Council, The Faversham Society, the 20s Plenty for Faversham campaign, Ethelbert Road School and the many local people that have opposed the roundabout.

Both results demonstrate what can be achieved when people in Faversham engage in reasonable discussion, broad consultation and concerted action.

Presentation to Swale Joint Transportation Board

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak today.

I think we are all agreed that the junctions of the A2 with the A251 Ashford Road and the Mall can be improved. But the characteristics of the present problem and, therefore, the nature of a preferred solution are not addressed by the proposed roundabout and its associated banned turnings. I would like to address both problem and solution in this brief presentation. And I would like to suggest a way forward.

The current problem
First, the current problem of vehicle congestion is highly peaky. Most of the time, the junction is free-flowing.

Second, at school peak times there may be more pedestrians using the road space of The Mall than vehicles.

Third, children and other vulnerable road users have no formal pedestrian crossing points – they have to chance it by crossing, often running, between moving traffic.

Fourth, local residents report they don’t walk into town because they are afraid to cross the road, especially Forbes Road and The Mall.

Fifth, there are no formal cycling provisions.

Sixth, planned housing development in Faversham will create more travel demand that can only be accommodated in a safe and convivial way by a significant shift to non-vehicle modes ie to walking and cycling.

In other words, traffic congestion is not the only problem that needs addressing. Road safety – both real and perceived – as well as public health, air quality and social cohesion also matter.

The proposed roundabout
The proposed roundabout is highly expensive, highly unpopular and fails to address the current needs of road users, especially vulnerable road users. It provides no facilities for cyclists and only a deeply substandard, token gesture for pedestrians.

Faversham Town Council is against the roundabout. Ethelbert Road School is against it as are the Faversham Society, local residents and public realm design professionals like myself. Even the local taxi drivers I’ve spoken to are against it.

By banning the right turn out of The Mall, the proposals will encourage traffic to rat-run through local streets or to swing round the roundabout and rush back along the A2 to make up for lost time from having been forced out of its way.

As a result, the overall junction will work less well for vehicles and will make conditions for pedestrians and cyclists even worse than they presently are.

An alternative approach
An alternative approach should go back to the drawing board and follow these principles:
First, it should prioritise vulnerable road users, providing facilities for pedestrians and cyclists.

Second, it should improve junction capacity by slowing vehicle traffic to 20mph so that, as vehicles approach the junction it is possible for more vehicles to turn in and out. This principle is well established elsewhere in the UK. Amanda Russell will speak about the 20sPlenty campaign later but let me here make the point that 20sPlenty benefits vehicles as well as non-vehicle road users.

Third, an alternative approach should involve local people in its design – they are also experts. This issue is now so high in the local consciousness that it shouldn’t be left to those on high to come up with the alternative and then send it out for comment.

Traffic lights
Finally, let me say something about traffic lights. Would they be a better solution to a roundabout? Perhaps, yes – but only if part of a design that benefits pedestrians and cyclists; only if part of a design that slows vehicles and only if part of a design that is co-created with the local community.

In the meantime, my preferred approach is to introduce a 20mph speed limit at and around the junction and monitor the effects of this single, extremely low-cost design change before committing to significant further spend.

Thank you.

All quiet on The Mall

It’s the first day of half term and the junction of the A2 with The Mall is flowing as freely as I’ve ever seen it. 

Of course some commuters are on holiday but could it also be that a significant proportion of the traffic normally flowing through this junction is parents and carers with children heading to and from schools? Have transport planners considered how this group of people can be addressed and reduced by providing alternative, viable means of getting to and from school? For example, by improving walking and cycling?

Or have transport planners just assumed that they need to accommodate traffic growth “because car traffic always grows, doesn’t it?”

No one doubts that new development in Faversham will generate its own car traffic growth. But what we are campaigning for is the delivery of alternative transport modes – walking, cycling and public transport – that can slow the rate of car growth. 

Providing parents and carers with a viable alternative to driving must surely be a key priority for Kent County Council, which has a duty of care to protect vulnerable road users. So why is there no provision for walking or cycling in the proposed junction plans?

Consultation on the proposals ends at 12 noon today. 

Voice your concern by emailing:

tro@kent.gov.uk

Faversham resident & campaigner. Architect & Urban Planner.