Issues with Fawkham’s roads and what we are doing to try to help

Issues with Fawkham’s roads and lanes featured prominently in the village survey as things you don’t like about living here. As a result, FPC members devote a lot of their time to helping to address these issues by looking into problems and raising them directly with Kent County Council (KCC) Highways, who are responsible for the roads, and with other bodies such as Sevenoaks District Council and Thames Water, for things they are responsible for. We also liaise with our KCC and SDC Councillors on some issues where they can help us. The recent accident on Valley Road has heightened concerns over the speed and volume of traffic on the road, and we want to share with you what we having been doing over the past 12-18 months.
                                                                                                                                                                                        In 2019, KCC Highways introduced “Highway Improvement Plans” for each Parish Council to use to request improvements, and Fawkham’s has included requests for traffic surveys to look at the speed, volume and weight of traffic using Valley Road, with a view to getting the various speed limits along the roads reassessed. Surveys were carried out in some locations at the end of 2019, and we analysed the results carefully before using them to request some actions via the Highway Improvement Plan submitted this year. Top-line information showed around 23,500 vehicles use Valley Road each week – or around 3,400 a day. In terms of speed, vehicles travelled well below the 40mph limit by the school, with an average of 28.7/28.6 mph (north/south). The average speed close to Michaels Lane was also under 30mph, although the speed limit was exceeded by a quarter of cars travelling north and 29% travelling south. However, at the transition of the 30:60 mph zones, on the way to Brands Hatch, the average speeds in both directions were 36mph. 
 
KCC Highways has agreed to undertake more traffic surveys in more locations (doing them last year would have under-estimated volumes due to Covid restrictions) and we are hoping they will take place this April. They have agreed to our request that the various speed limits along the road are now formally reviewed. The last review was in 2010 and Department for Transport guidance has changed since then, so this speed limit review will take that into account. We will let you know the outcome, which we expect to hear in May/June.
                                                                                                                                                                                       KCC Highways is also undertaking a signage review along the whole road, to make sure the right signs and road markings are being used in the right places. It’s often the case that too many signs leads to people ignoring them, whereas a carefully positioned sign can make a positive difference. Again, we will let you know the outcome of this review.
                                                                                                                                                                                         It is very important for all accidents to be reported to the Police if they involve any personal injury. It is these crash data statistics that are used to direct the available funds to the areas that need it the most. The statistics can be seen by entering a postcode here: CrashMap.co.uk
                                                                                                                                                                                     We would like to hear your views, comments and questions on road issues, which we will aim to cover at our next Parish Council meeting on 18th February. Please email us at fawkhampc@gmail.com and we will look into the points you raise.
Details for the FPC meeting on 18th February:

Time: Feb 18, 2021 07:30 PM London

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89829612886?pwd=SVVsMy9CQmNabGRicGt0K2srTERtUT09

Meeting ID: 898 2961 2886
Passcode: 069533

                                                                                                                                                                                    Listed here is an overview of other road-related issues we are currently working on:
  • Resurfacing Valley Rd – KCC Highways are well aware of the failure of the recent micro surfacing work and have promised that it will be rectified in March/April when weather conditions allow. Meanwhile, any concerns about specific areas along the road should be reported to KCC Highways who will investigate and take temporary action where required: https://www.kent.gov.uk/roads-and-travel/report-a-problem. Further details can be read here:https://fawkhampc.org.uk/update-on-valley-road-micro-surfacing/.
  • Potholes – these should be reported using the online tool: https://www.kent.gov.uk/roads-and-travel/report-a-problem. There are standard times in which they must be fixed.
  • Surface water flooding  Following complaints from us and from residents, KCC Drainage Engineers did CCTV surveys around the village green to investigate why it continually floods. They found the system drains into a soakaway on the grass verge at the junction with Fawkham Green Road, which has now been emptied of silt and a damaged section of the drain leading to it is being repaired this month.                                                                                                                                                  We also told KCC about a soakaway and gully south of the school, which a local resident recalled existed. It was not on KCCs records and had been completed buried over the years. It has now been found and made operational again, which should help surface water to drain more quickly in that area. There are not many gullies or drains in the villages roads. We need to keep reporting any blockages and flooding to KCC, using the online tool: https://www.kent.gov.uk/roads-and-travel/report-a-problem.
  • Sewage flooding – we have been supporting a local resident who has been pursuing Thames Water to take action on the too frequent sewage overflows. Thames Water are due to remove tree roots blocking one of their drains this month, and are being pressed to undertake routine maintenance work to help prevent issues.
  • Fly tipping – this is dealt with by Sevenoaks District Council (SDC), although if it is on private land it is the landowner’s responsibility to remove it. We have set up an action group – Fawkham Against Fly Tipping – in conjunction with SDC and our KCC Councillor to look at what can be done to reduce the number of fly tipping incidents in our village and the surrounding area by placing fly tipping signs and cameras in suitable locations. You can report fly tipping to SDC: https://www.sevenoaks.gov.uk/info/20000/rubbish_and_recycling/205/fly-tipping or use an app such as Country Eye or Fix My Street.
  • Litter picking and road sweeping – this is the responsibility of SDC, and we pushed for a full litter pick all the way along Fawkham/Valley Road/Brands Hatch Road, which took place in September. Although not every piece of litter was picked, the road looked a lot better. The section from the village green to the school will start to be swept again every 8 weeks, with a litter pick and sweep of the whole road every 6-8 months. We will continue to monitor that this happens and chase up if required. 
  • Grass cutting and verge maintenance – we are investigating with KCC whether any areas in Fawkham would be suitable to be left as roadside wildlife areas. This is not possible where cutting is done for sight lines/road safety reasons.
  • Road markings – we pressed KCC to repaint the white lines along the edges of the carriageway which had completely disappeared in many places. These lines make the road appear even narrower than it is and can help reduce speeds. We also successfully requested that the lines at various junctions, such as Manor Lane, be repainted, along with the markings outside Fawkham Primary school.
  • Flashing school warning signs – we have been investigating how these three signs work and what the options are in terms of repairing or replacing them. Progress has been slow but we continue to chase to answers.
  • Damaged road signs – we regularly report any we see to KCC Highways for repair. Anyone can do this using KCC’s online reporting tool: https://www.kent.gov.uk/roads-and-travel/report-a-problem. If you use the map option you can see if someone has already reported in and what progress has been made. We also get out a bucket and sponge and give signs a clean when they need it!
  • HGVs – Valley Road has a 7.5T except for access restriction which means only HGVs making deliveries/collections at an address along the road can use it. We know that many other lorries use it too. We requested that KCC Highways improve the signage at the Scratchers Lane end – which they did, both at the junction by the M20 bridge and also at the A20/Scratchers Lane junction. New traffic counts will tell us if these have made a difference. We also set up a Lorry Watch scheme through which suspected illegal use can be reported. If you would like to join the Lorry Watch group please let us know – it involves spending an hour or so every now and then. Also, if you report any lorries you see to us (with licence plate and/or company name, date and time) we can follow it up. Ultimately it is up to Kent Police to enforce the restriction, although we know the Lorry Watch has made a difference, with less use by some local businesses. Further details can be found here: https://fawkhampc.org.uk/lorry-watch/.

 

 

You can find all the links to report issues mentioned above in the Directory section of Fawkham Parish Council’s website: https://fawkhampc.org.uk/directory/.
Fawkham Parish Council

Update on Valley Road Micro Surfacing

We recently asked Kent County Council to inspect Valley Road as we were concerned about safety issues resulting from the uneven “stripped” areas of resurfacing and some ironworks and drains which remain below the new surface. As a result, they carried out an inspection this week, and reported back to us.
KCC state that the current surface state is not considered dangerous or safety critical at the moment, although the road condition will continue to be monitored. The remaining ironworks will be raised to be level with the road surface in January. The resurfacing, unfortunately, has to wait until the weather conditions allow for it be be successful, which means late March/early April. Meanwhile “uneven road surface” signs will be put up to warn road users.
The detailed comments from KCC Highways can be seen below:
“Firstly I do apologise for the failure of the surfacing at this location which is of course not what any party would have wanted and certainly not our contractor and their crews. It is important we put it right, in such a manner to achieve the initial result that should have been reached if everything had gone to plan after surfacing this road.
“I have driven the site very recently so that I can understand the situation on the ground as it relates to condition and safety. As you know there is extensive stripping of the micro surfacing at various locations and from an aesthetic perspective it is not good. That said, having reviewed the site I am satisfied that the road surface is not dangerous as the material that is plating off will only extend down to the original road surface, which will be solid and stable, some 20mm below the new micro surfacing layer. In relation to the ironwork and covers, I do accept your observation that several pieces of ironwork / road gullies are low and do need raising and we are arranging this as a priority ASAP in January.
“Just to confirm regarding the current surface state, I do not consider this dangerous or safety critical at the current time, but I will arrange ‘uneven road surface signage’ to be displayed through the site just to make drivers aware of the condition as a precaution, and to advertise the fact we are aware of the current situation regarding the delamination.
“I understand that the solution of patching out the failed areas has been mooted but at the moment that is something I desperately wish to avoid. One of the benefits of the micro surfacing, in normal circumstances at least, is that it protects the main road structure and provides a homogenous surface free of defects and joints. In effect it smooths over any irregularities and previous repairs in the road to provide a continuous running surface and keep the main road structure protected from water. If we patch the road to remove the current delamination, we will lose this benefit and the road would regress back to a state where it is a ‘patch work quilt’ of road repairs and joints. To avoid this we want to bring the full micro surfacing crews back to the site with all the mechanical plant to utilise the same material, to inlay the stripped areas and removing the plating effect, in a way that is visually inconspicuous to the surrounding surface. Our current plan is to bring back the micro surfacing crews in late March to early April 2021 when the season starts in weather & conditions that should be far better than at current, or what we could reasonably expect in January and February.
“It is very frustrating that a failure of this nature has occurred. The Micro Surfacing process itself has been used successfully in Kent for a number of years, and surface failures such as that current on Valley Road are incredibly rare. We do want to put right the problems at Valley Road and I would like to reassure you that this site is a priority to resolve in the beginning of the season and our contractor is more than aware of this and will programme accordingly. The remedial activities are weather-dependant and may involve notification of our return at short notice, in March / early April window, once we are confident the chosen date will be fully supported by good weather. Our revisit must be done in the best possible circumstances to get this issue fully addressed both immediately after the remedial works and for the long term. In the short term we will be monitoring the site regularly with our local district teams to keep an eye on any further deterioration, particularly on safety concerns that may arise, and address these as appropriate until we return to repair the road surface.
Kent County Council Highways”

Decision made to prepare a Neighbourhood Plan for Fawkham 

At the December 2020 meeting, Fawkham Parish Council (FPC) discussed the idea of preparing a Neighbourhood Plan for Fawkham, and considered the benefits and implications, including the fact that this is not the ideal time to ask for more money. We also took into account the feedback received from residents, following the distribution of a leaflet to all houses in the village, with three times as many in favour of preparing a plan than not. FPC voted unanimously to proceed with the preparation of a Neighbourhood Plan. This decision will mean that the Parish element of Council Tax will increase for 2021/2 and 2022/3. 

Work on the Plan will start in the new year, and the first formal step in the process, the designation of the Neighbourhood Plan area by Sevenoaks District Council, will be applied for in January. We will also set up the project and begin to build the evidence base by reviewing existing information and developing further, more localised evidence. A Neighbourhood Plan is most successful if all of the community engages with it and we hope that further community engagement using face-to-face methods will be possible in the near future. The evidence gathered and the outcomes of community engagement will then inform the development of a vision and policies for the plan, with further community engagement and feedback on the proposals. This process is likely to take 12-18 months.
More information can be found on the Neighbourhood Plan page, which will be updated and used throughout the creation of the Plan to keep residents up to date.
Please do get in touch if you have the skills, experience, time and, most importantly, the willingness to help by joining our Steering Group or a working group on a particular topic, such as environment, biodiversity, infrastructure, housing or urban design.

A Neighbourhood Plan for Fawkham?

We will hold another online Zoom meeting on 10th December at 7.30pm for residents who were unable to make the previous meeting. We will discuss the idea and answer queries and questions you may have. If you’d like to attend, please email fawkhampc@gmail.com for the password.
If you are unable to join the Zoom meeting, please let us have your view, by 13th December, by:
  • Emailing us at fawkhampc@gmail.com
  • Sending us a letter addressed to The Clerk, Hillside Cottage, Castle Hill, DA3 7BQ
  • Phoning us on 07503 651138 to arrange a telephone conversation
You can find out more about Neighbourhood Plans and what it could mean for Fawkham here: https://fawkhampc.org.uk/neighbourhood-plan/
Fawkham Parish Council

A Neighbourhood Plan for Fawkham?

Sevenoaks District Council’s InShape newsletter says the Government’s proposed changes to planning laws would “effectively remove residents’ voices from the planning process”. Creating a Neighbourhood Plan would enable Fawkham residents’ voices to heard. This is one of the reasons we are looking into preparing one.

Please let us know if you think this would be a good idea. You can email us at fawkhampc@gmail.com, write to us at Hillside Cottage, Castle Hill, Fawkham DA3 8BQ or call 07503 651138 to arrange a telephone conversation. Please get in touch by December 13th.

yellow and orange leaflet

Leaflet delivered in November 2020

Fawkham Manor Listing

I’m pleased to let you know that our application to have Fawkham Manor listed has been successful.
The principal reasons for the decision for listing Fawkham Manor, designed in 1866-1867 by E B Lamb at Grade II are shown below, and full details of the listing came found on Historic England’s website: https://historicengland.org.uk/…/the…/list-entry/1472809
We understand that the planning application will now take this listed building status into account, with a decision expected by January.
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION
Architectural interest:
  • as a striking example of Victorian domestic architecture, reflecting a transition from the Gothic revival to a style informed by vernacular building traditions;
  • for its quality of materials, detail and craftsmanship applied to picturesque massing;
  • as a work which both typifies the idiosyncratic creativity of E B Lamb, and demonstrates his continuing inventiveness into the late stages of his career;
  • an externally little-altered work by a significant architect of the C19
Historic interest:
  • as one of E B Lamb’s last architectural works and a highly personal one designed for his own occupation.

Kind regards

 

Laura Evans

Chair, Fawkham Parish Council

photo of a Manor House

Fawkham Manor

Advent Windows

Advent Windows coming soon!
Fawkham Parish Council is taking part in this special event in the run up to Christmas. Every day to Christmas Eve a new window will be revealed in Fawkham, Hartley, Longfield or Ash, each themed with a Christmas carol.
We have December 18th and The First Noel! We would love it if children in the village can let us have a drawing of a shepherd, sheep or angel, which we will display in our window at the village hall. They can create their own drawing or use one of the colouring sheets found here. Please let us have them by December 16th, ideally with the first name and age of the child. Please message us and we will pick them up.
The full schedule of windows is below: other windows in Fawkham will be at the Rising Sun, Fawkham School, Steephill School and St Mary’s Church.

Neighbourhood Plan – what do you think?

Fawkham Parish Council are considering preparing a Neighbourhood Plan for the village.

This would be a lengthy process and impact the village as a whole and, before we decide, we would like to hear your views. We are delivering a leaflet to all houses in the village which outlines the main points of a Neighbourhood Plan, the implications of preparing one, and how to contact us to give us your views. Please let us know what you think by December 14th.

We want to hear what you think – please let us know if you’d like us to go ahead with this.

We will hold an online Zoom meeting on 3rd December at 7.30pm to discuss the idea and answer queries and questions you may have. If you’d like to attend, please email fawkhampc@gmail.com and we will send the password.

If you are unable to join the Zoom meeting, you can:

  • Email us at fawkhampc@gmail.com
  • Send us a letter addressed to The Clerk, Hillside Cottage, Castle Hill, DA3 7BQ
  • Phone us on 07503 651138 to arrange a telephone conversation
  • Contact us

What is a Neighbourhood Plan?

A Neighbourhood Plan sets out a community’s vision for their area and puts policies in place that will shape the future. It is a tool that gives communities statutory powers to help shape their local area.

A Neighbourhood Plan is:

  • A legal document that sets out planning policies for the local area – planning policies are used to decide whether to approve planning applications
  • Written by the local community, the people who know and love the area, rather than by Sevenoaks District Council
  • A powerful tool to guide future development.

Please see the Neighbourhood Plan page for more details.

yellow and orange leaflet

Leaflet delivered in November 2020