No Mow May

Letting flowers bloom on your lawn helps provide a vital source of nectar for bees and other insects. This is why we’re encouraging you to support Plantlife’s ‘No Mow May’ project. The No Mow May campaign doesn’t ask you to do much. In fact, it asks you to not do anything at all…Just lock up your lawnmower on May 1st and let the wild flowers in your lawn bloom, providing a feast of nectar for our hungry pollinators. At the end of May, you can count the flowers on your lawn to take part in the Plantlife’s Every Flower Counts survey. You’ll then get your own Personal Nectar Score, which tells you how many bees your garden is helping to support.
The ultimate concept of No Mow May is not really to stop mowing in May specifically, or to leave whole swathes of your lawn unmown. Behind the catchy title is a simple concept: get people to change their habits so that they mow less – ideally once a month – and possibly even leave a patch or two of grass to grow long. Gardens can really make a difference to the number of wildflowers in this country. You may find all sorts of flowers appear from the soil’s hidden seedbank. Do share any photos to the group.
Mowing tips for encouraging wildlife:
  • Cut once every four weeks and ideally leave 3 to 5 cm of grass length
  • Leave areas of long grass. This is likely to result in a greater diversity of flowers
  • You don’t have to stop mowing completely. Some species such as daisy are adapted to growing in shorter lawns and cutting flowers from these once a month stimulates them to produce more blooms.
  • Don’t use weed killer, lawn fertiliser or “weed and feed” products
  • Do remove the grass clippings
Fawkham Parish Council has asked Kent County Council about the cutting regime for the verges they maintain along Valley Road. KCC confirmed these do need to be cut regularly from May to the autumn, to maintain the sight lines for road safety.  However, they have agreed to let the grass and wildflowers grow in certain areas around the M20 bridge, with an annual conservation cut in the autumn. They will monitor this to see how the pollinator and habitat value is establishing, and whether it would meet the criteria for a Roadside Nature Reserve.
The grass on the village green and on Baldwins Green at the bottom of Caste Hill will also need to be cut for road safety reasons, although we have been able to sow wildflower seeds on the triangle of land along Rogers Wood Lane, which we are hoping will bloom this year.
How to grow wildflowers. Keeping things simple, you can buy “bombs” – balls of wildflower seeds that can be scattered straight onto open ground. Once scattered, you don’t need to water or tend them. They are best scattered on ‘cleared ground’ as wildflowers are hardy and adaptable but slow growers. This means they can be out-completed by faster growing grasses and weeds at the crucial early stages, so straight onto bare soil is best.
Places where you can get these bombs include: Seed bombs – https://www.seedbombshop.co.uk and Bee Bombs – https://www.beebombs.com
Planting a mini-meadow. If you’d like to create patch of wild flowers, a mini-meadow area, or a border especially for bees or butterflies, many seed suppliers sell ready-made seed mixtures. Some of the best include:
Emorsgate Seeds: General wildflower mix: https://wildseed.co.uk/mixtures/view/2 and Wildflowers for chalk soils: https://wildseed.co.uk/mixtures/view/7
Both sites have great in depth advice if you’re serious about creating a wild flower meadow:
As do The Wildlife Trusts:

Fawkham Manor Planning Application

21/00696/LBCALT and 21/00695/FUL | Partial redevelopment and conversion of the former Fawkham Manor Hospital for residential (C3 Use), including self-contained houses and apartments. Including demolition of modern hospital wings and outbuildings. Associated landscaping, erection of ancillary outbuildings, including bin and bike stores. | Fawkham Manor Hospital Manor Lane Fawkham KENT DA3 8ND

Fawkham Parish Council is not against the principle of the re-development of Fawkham Manor Hospital,  nor the replacement of the hospital wings. However, we have various issues with the resubmitted proposals which cause us to object to this planning application on a number of grounds including the harm to the listed building through the design, layout and number of units, and the inappropriate number of units in this unsustainable rural location, including the impact on local infrastructure.

1. HARM TO THE LISTED BUILDING – these comments also apply to 21/00696/LBCALT 
We are pleased to see that the manor house itself remains largely unaltered. We welcome the removal of elements such as the metal external stairs, and the return of Fawkham Manor to residential use. We also welcome the gap now proposed between Block A and the Manor House, the resulting repair of the gable end, and the moving back of Block A. However, our view remains as an objection to the current planning application overall and we make the following comments:
1.1 Design
1.1.1 Our view is that the design of the new Blocks, though altered, is not in keeping with that of Fawkham Manor, and would cause harm to the Listed building.
1.1.2 The materials and style of the roof, although altered from the previous application, do not reflect the red and black bands of clay tiles of the Manor House. The drawings submitted by the developers are misleading as they show the existing manor house roof as being dark grey. The manor house’s notable Victorian architect, EB Lamb, chose to avoid the use of slate tiles, which were pre-dominant in Victorian houses, in favour of polychromatic clay tiles. We feel clay tiles would be more suitable for the roof.
1.1.3 The horizontal red bands of brick, which are a very striking feature of the Manor House, are not used in the proposed design (although they are incorporated into the design of the hospital wings). The predominant material of Fawkham Manor is grey flint, with red horizontal brick bands and buff brick infill. The proposed new build is entirely of yellow London Stock brick. We would welcome a nod to the manor’s design through the use of red bricks, for example for the bands over the windows.
1.1.4 The windows in the roof are, in our opinion, unattractive. Small dormers with pitched roofs would, in our opinion, be more suitable.
1.2 Layout
1.2.1 We believe that Block C will adversely effect the views of the north-east elevation of  Fawkham Manor from Manor Lane currently available via the old staff car park opening. The removal of the building within the car park, and the removal of hedgerow for sight line purposes, will both serve to open up the view further.
1.2.2 The Listing statement states that this north-east garden front is the most formal elevation and so we believe it is important that the setting of, and views to, that elevation are protected from harm. In our view, this would be best achieved by the removal of Block C from the proposals. This would have added benefits, described later.
1.2.3 On detailed points:
  • Appendix 3 of Heritage statement does not include the historic fireplace uprights below the window as a heritage feature to be retained. We request that this feature, mentioned in the Listing details, is retained.
  • Comment is made (Heritage Statement 3.17) that it is difficult to tell what the original layout of the interior was, and what features are original. The Parish Council is aware that the 1949 estate sales particulars are available, which include interior photos and room dimensions which would assist here, and which should be examined (these are available from the Parish Council).
  • We request that a Conservation Officer visits the interior of the site to record the heritage features prior to work commencing and that a further visit is made after the works are completed.

1.2.4 Given that Fawkham Manor is a heritage asset, a balanced judgement is required on the scale of harm or loss and the significance of the asset [NPPF para 197]. We feel the proposed design and layout of the new Blocks will harm the setting of the manor house, contrary to policy EN4 of the Core Strategy, and further that the design is not aligned with SP7 or EN1 (a) of the Core Strategy, nor paragraph 127 (b) of the NPPF, and we would like to see it altered.

2. NUMBER AND TYPE OF UNITS PROPOSED 

2.1 Although the number of units has reduced from 32 to 26, there is the same number of bedrooms in the revised proposals and so a similar number of residents. The impact on the local infrastructure remains unchanged from the previous proposals. These impacts are discussed later.
2.2 SDC’s Policy SP5 seeks smaller less than 3 bedroom units. The Planning statement says at 4.4.14 that the proposal will help to increase the proportion of smaller units in SDC’s housing stock policy SP5. However, 18 of the 26 units are 4 bed town houses. Of the 8 apartments within the Manor House itself, 1 is 3 bed and 7 are 2 bed, although it would be difficult to describe them as small units as they are, on average, 117m2 in size, around double the size of an average 2 bed apartment. Our view is that the proposal does not help in any significant way to increase the stock of smaller units.
2.3 The Planning statement suggests as 4.4.15 that the units will be suitable for “older households” and those downsizing. It seems unlikely that 4 bed townhouses arranged over three storeys will appeal to such households. The units are around 130m2 and so are above the UK average house size of 85m2 (and 76m2 for a new build).

2.4 The Planning Statement suggests that the units will contribute to the housing need identified in the Local Housing Needs Survey conducted in the neighbouring parish of West Kingsdown  However, an analysis of the needs identified shows only a minority are looking for smaller homes, of which several want bungalows, with others wanting some level of care provision, and West Kingsdown PC are in the process of providing 10 affordable and 3 market houses to help meet that need.

Our view is that the units will not help to meet the identified local need for units for older households looking to downsize.
2.5 In addition, Fawkham is classified in the Settlement Hierarchy as a hamlet, and has around 221 dwellings. Fawkham is in the lowest tier of the Settlement Hierarchy, and as such is unsuitable for much development. It is an unsustainable location: SDC identifies seven facilities and services consider key to sustainability, and states four or more of these as indicating a more sustainable location that may be able to support future development. Fawkham only has two of these key facilities, not four: a village hall and and 0.5 form entry primary school. It does not have the other key facilities: bus transport, rail transport, a doctor, a Post Office or a small store. The 26 units proposed here represent an increase of nearly 12% in the housing stock.
3. HARM TO THE GREEN BELT
 
3.1 We agree with SDC’s assessment of the previous application that the proposals would have a greater impact on openness than the existing development. We feel the revised application will too.
3.2 We disagree with the assertion made at 4.5.9 of the Planning statement which states that the second limb of NPPF para 145 (g) applies. We do not feel that provision of two affordable houses, off site, should be regarded as sufficient to meet this exception. The proposal seeks to reduce the affordable housing contribution as far as possible, whilst also seeking to use that reduced contribution to apply the second limb of 145 (g). Given that SDC policy is for all developments over a certain size to contribute 40% affordable housing, this proposal is merely complying with that – though in fact it then reduces its contribution from 10 to 2 by requesting offset against the existing buildings, which are in a different use.
3.3 Rather, FPC asserts that the first limb should apply, which requires that the redevelopment of PDL should not have a greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt than the existing development. This proposal does have a greater impact, both in footprint and volume, and the harm under the first limb does not have to be substantial, just greater.
4. INFRASTRUCTURE ISSUES

4.1 Overview of the Fawkham Manor Estate

It will be useful to provide at this point an overview of the “Fawkham Manor Estate”. This was part of a larger estate from medieval times which covered most of the parish of Fawkham, purchased in the late 1800s by the Hohler family, which remained largely intact until 1949 when it was sold to the Billings family. In this response, references to the “Fawkham Manor Estate” should be taken to be the area bound by Manor Lane to the east which is accessed by a private road, named “Fawkham Manor Farm”. Some plots within this estate were sold in the 1960s and now form separate residences. Properties on the estate in addition to Fawkham Manor comprise: The Bungalow at Grange Park Farm, Lot 12, Oakwood House, The Coach House, Stables Cottage, 1 Stables Cottage, Parkwood, Park Field, The Spinney, The Cottage and North Lodge.

In the immediate vicinity of the manor house is the accompanying stable block, also designed by Lamb, which has been converted into three residences: The Coach House, Stables Cottages and 1 Stables Cottage. These are not mentioned in the Planning Statement [2.3.1] despite them being the nearest properties to the manor house.

FPC has again sought the views of the residents on the estate, plus those living close by on Manor Lane, and these are reflected in our response.

4.2 Car Parking

4.2.1 The plans include too few parking spaces for the location, and a reduction to 59 from the existing 78, according to the Design and Access statement, although the Planning statement retains the previous 71 at 4.8.2 which may be an editing error – clarity is needed as to which is correct. The comments below assume 59.

4.2.2 Although the proposals adhere to KCC’s minimum vehicle parking standards, we ask that SDC exercises its right, under Policy TN2, to depart from these to take account of special local circumstances and request significantly further parking, both for residents and for visitors/deliveries, for the following reasons:

  • There is no easy access to public transport (a bus stop some 1.3km+ away can only be accessed via PROWs across fields and through woods – obviously unlit and at times very muddy).
  • Residents will be reliant on private cars, as are the vast majority of residents in Fawkham.
  • The latest census data shows a third of houses in Fawkham have 3 or more cars. Given that there will be 18 four bed townhouses, these are likely to have more than 2 cars each.
  • There is no “on street” parking available anywhere close to the site: Manor Lane is a single track road and the estate is served by a single track private access road. Any parking on either of these would block the route, including for emergency vehicle access.
  • Given that the proposed car parking spaces are close to or, in many cases, within the 15m buffer zones for the ancient woodland, it will be important to ensure that parking in kept to with the marked bays, rather than extending further into the buffer zones.
  • The “tandem” parking arrangement proposed for Blocks B and C is contrary to KCC’s parking standards which state that parking spaces for such units should be independently accessible.
  • We feel the current amount of parking spaces per unit is likely to cause blockages and access problems for residents on this site and those elsewhere on the Fawkham Manor estate, and also for emergency vehicle access.

4.2.3 The parking arrangements are contrary to EN1 of the Core Strategy.

4.3 Transport

4.3.1 To reach any services or facilities, future occupants would need to negotiate Manor Lane, a single track lane with steeply sunken sides, many bends and few informal passing places. It represents an unsafe walking environment due to the apparent speed of the traffic, absence of a footway and absence of lighting. Manor Lane is frequently covered with flints washed down from its steep sides, making walking unsafe, especially in the dark. For similar reasons cycling is unlikely to be desirable and would require a level of confidence, fitness and proficiency that future residents may not possess. It is therefore likely that future occupants would be car dependent, as are existing residents of Fawkham, as shown by a recent survey of Fawkham (January 2019): only 15.5% of respondents regularly walk as a form of transport and only one stated they regularly cycle, with only six (4.7%) cycling occasionally.

4.3.2 The Transport Statement suggests that people can use PROWs to reach services at New Ash Green, but the recent survey quoted above would suggest that is unlikely to happen in practice. The footpaths in the area reflect ancient settlement patterns and do not lead directly to New Ash Green Village Centre, which was built in 1967. It is unrealistic to think people will walk across fields along PROWs to reach a bus stop some 1.3km distant, to access a very limited bus service, which does not go to destinations such as Swanley, Dartford and Sevenoaks.

4.3.3 Section 1.3.7 of the Transport Technical Note states “existing passing bays are provided”. Please can the developer be asked to advise the location of these as we are not aware of any passing bays. Manor Lane is at its narrowest along the boundary of the Fawkham Manor estate, which is around 0.5in length. There are 2 or 3 informal places along this 0.5 miles where cars  can pass by each other by driving up the hedgerow/ancient woodland’s bank in a manoeuvre not all drivers are happy to/capable of doing. There is much reversion around blind bends for long distances to reach a wider section of the road. Thes e informal places have been created over time by vehicles going up the steep-sided hedge banks, causing erosion to them and damage to tree roots. None of the places has been designed. One passing place is on front of a field access gates, and all are probably on private land, rather than on the public highway. It is only possible for one car to pass in each direction. The traffic patterns that will be seen under residential use, with school runs and work commutes, are likely to result in traffic congestion issues.

4.3.4 Section 1.3.7 of the Transport Technical Note also says Manor Lane is “lightly trafficked” but no evidence has been provided for that. This should be requested and provided before any planning permission is decided.
4.3.5 KCC Highways has previously asked for a speed survey of Manor Lane to be undertaken. This should be requested and provided before any planning permission is decided.

4.3.6 Section 1.3.10 of the Transport Technical Note talks of residents using the services and facilities in New Ash Green, however a survey of Fawkham residents in 2019 shows residents are far more likely to use the services and facilities in Longfield, and access these via Valley Road. The majority of journeys will be westwards, along the narrowest parts of Manor Lane, to reach Valley Road, and from there to Longfield, Bluewater or Swanley.

4.3.7 Manor Lane leads onto Valley Road at a blind bend where Valley Road is less than 4m wide. The Transport Statement acknowledges that the visibility splays at Manor Lane’s junctions are substandard [2.1.3] and it is our view that this junction could not be improved.

4.3.8 The Transport Technical Note states at 1.3.8 that although it is acknowledged that the visibility at the junction of Manor Lane with Valley Road is sub-standard, the last 3 years crash data does not show any records. However, data for the last 10 years shows 4 records around that junction, plus 2 on Manor Lane itself and a further 3 at the Chapel Wood Road junction, one of which was serious.

4.3.9 In terms of wider road network, Valley Road represents a quicker route from the M20/A20/ M25/A2 than using an alternative route via the Ash Road and so it is our belief that most traffic movements to/from the site would use Valley Road. Valley Road is a narrow C- graded road in poor condition, liable to flood in a number of places, with several blind bends and subject to a 7.5T except for access restriction. KCC Highways has previously stated [DLPS7505] that “additional movements on Valley Rd and Fawkham Road … would not be desirable”. It has also previously been noted that “access to major routes [from Fawkham] is not easy, due to the narrow rural nature of local roads, despite the relative proximity of the motorway network” [SDC’s Conservation Area Appraisal for Baldwins Green, Fawkham].

4.3.10 No travel plan has been submitted for this application, which, given its unsustainable location, we feel should be required.

4.4 Access

4.4.1 The information provided by the applicants only contains information about two of the three access points to the Fawkham Manor Hospital site (as was). These three access points are:

1.The entrance to the old staff car park direct from Manor Lane – this is planned to be the car park for the 12 townhouses in blocks B and C. We would ask that the sight lines when exiting these be checked by KCC Highways.

2. The entrance close to Oakwood House, which was primarily for hospital deliveries, which leads via a single track private road, Fawkham Manor Farm, to the car parking to be used by residents in the apartments in the manor house and Block A.

3. There is also a 3rd Northern access point, also along the private Fawkham Manor Farm, leading from an entrance point off Manor Lane by North Lodge. This was the main entry point for patients/visitors to the hospital. Again, it is single track, and fenced for most of its route with very few passing spaces. During consultation for the Local Plan for a different proposed development using this access, KCC Highways commented [DLPS6177] “Visibility may be an issue due to curve of road and established hedges and trees. Vehicles entering and exiting the access southwards may be problematic due to the sharp alignment of the road to the access”.

It is disgenious to ignore the existence of this access point. The Access Statement says “access will continue as existing from Manor Lane and Fawkham Manor Farm” [7.1] but refers only to the first two access points above. The existing access for the hospital also includes the third access point, over which we understand it has a right of way. Indeed, this was the most frequently used access when in hospital use. We again request some clarity on the use/prevention of use of this access.
4.4.2 The Access Statement states that the nearest properties are located along Manor Lane – which ignores the properties on the estate itself, which are closer to the Manor House, which are listed above.

4.4.3 We would ask that KCC Highways makes a site visit to assess the access and the condition of Manor Lane. Overall, we believe the arrangements are contrary to EN1 and EN2 of the ADMP.

4.5 Vehicle Movement Trip Analysis

4.5.1 We would question the results of the vehicle movement trip analysis undertaken, although based on a better comparison than previously, it is only based on one location – which casts doubt on the data’s robustness.

4.5.2 The traffic movement patterns will differ from those of the hospital use, when movements were spread throughout the day, with more of an impact on the morning and evening peak times. There will also be more traffic movements at the weekends than when in hospital use.

4.5.3 The vehicle movement analysis is also based upon a false assumption, as it ignores the fact that the 3rd most northern access point was the one used by hospital patients and visitors. If this access is (somehow) not used, then the traffic movements via the other two access points will in fact increase when compared to the former hospital use. In addition, there will be traffic travelling further up Manor Lane from Valley Road to reach these two access points, which will cause further erosion to the banks and further damage to tree roots.

4.5.4 We would like to see a more realistic analysis undertaken before we can comment further. We would ask that KCC Highways makes a site visit to assess the access and undertakes a traffic analysis. As it stands, we feel the proposals are contrary to EN2 of the ADMP.

5. OTHER ISSUES

5.1 In terms of footprint, should the current footprint used in calculations exclude buildings which are only entered to service equipment, for example, the plant room?

5.2 As the proposal is not to re-use the hospital wings, but rather to demolish and replace them, does Policy GB9 apply which is cited in the Planning Statement?
5.3 GB9 (c) – not quoted by the developer’s agent –  states “the replacement building would be within the same use as the building to be demolished”. The building being demolished was a hospital and the replacement building is residential. It would seem

5.4 S106

FPC does not object to the lack of affordable housing on site, as the last Local Housing Needs survey in 2017 did not show a need for affordable housing. However, we feel that a s106 payment contribution equating to two (down from three) houses elsewhere too small. We note that the NPPF says that where “vacant buildings are redeveloped, any affordable housing contribution should be reduced” however, it is only the Manor House itself that is being redeveloped, with 8 apartments, and the remaining 18 are being newly built. We are disappointed that the planning framework does not account for a change of use from hospital to residential in this regard.

5.5 CIL

5.5.1 We note that the applicants are seeking a large reduction in their CIL liability to take account the existing floor area which has been in lawful use – does a change in use to residential affect this suggested reduction?

5.5.2 Clearly use as a hospital does not affect local community infrastructure in the same way as residential properties. The GP surgery is under particular pressure and has no capacity. The village school is a 0.5 form entry and heavily over-subscribed.

5.5.3 The proposed 26 units represents an increase in housing stock for Fawkham of 12%, which will have an impact on the local infrastructure which, we contend, should be liable for full CIL payment. As CIL Regulation 40 (as amended) is highly technical we rely on SDC to undertake the appropriate calculation.

5.5.4 We feel a development of this size should need to deliver improvements to infrastructure and, in addition to seeking to greatly reduce the CIL liability, no such improvements are being suggested by the applicants.

5.6 Ecology/Ancient Woodland/Biodiversity

Should planning permission be granted, we would like to see the suggested new woodland, woodland management plans, enhancements, and protected species protection measures made conditions. The Ancient Woodland should be protected in line with statute. We would also want to see Lighting specified under condition, and the biodiversity enhancement offered at 4.9.9 also made a condition.

5.7 Valley Road: planning condition

Should permission be granted, FPC would wish to see a condition that no delivery/ construction traffic is to access the site via Valley Road (which would represent a quicker route from the M20/A20/M25/A2 than using an alternative route).

SUMMARY

We would like to see Block C removed from the proposal. This would help remove the greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt, protect the listed building from harm (when coupled with changes to design), alleviate the impact on local infrastructure, including pressures on parking. We would also want to see changes to the design of the remaining Blocks, as detailed above.
We would like to see more contributions via CIL and to affordable housing.

Fawkham Parish Council

Fawkham Manor – Revised Planning Proposal

A revised planning application has been submitted for Fawkham Manor, along with a new Listed Building Consent Application. Key changes that have been made are stated by the developer’s agent as:

  • A reduction in the overall number of units proposed from 32 to 26
  • A change in the type of units proposed in Block A from 20 two bed apartments to 6 four bed terraced “mews” houses, the same as Blocks B and C
  • Block A has been detached from the service wing of the manor house, creating a gap between the two, and the gabled and hipped end of the listed building will be restored
  • Redesign of all three new build blocks (A, B and C) to simplify their elevations (removal of protruding gables, balconies and roof level dormers), change from the mirrored elevation effect previously proposed to a more conventional terrace arrangement
  • Removal of allotment planters within the grounds of the listed building
  • Alteration to the plot shape, landscaping and path layout around Block C to establish a more organic approach to the northern side of the listed building from the north-eastern car park.
In addition, Block A appears to have been moved back to be in line with the frontage of the manor, although private gardens are now proposed in front of Block A (entrances doors are round the back, accessed from the courtyard area between the three blocks).
 
You can find full details of these on SDC’s website under reference 21/00695 and 21/00696. The key documents to review are:
– the design and access statement
– the planning statement
– the heritage statement
which also contain plans and drawings of what is proposed.

The deadline for responses is April 5th.

Fawkham Parish Council will be holding a meeting via Zoom at 7:30 on Monday 22nd March to consider its response to this application. You are very welcome to join that and we are interested in knowing the views of Fawkham residents, especially those who live close to the site. Joining details are shown below:

Topic: Fawkham Parish Council Meeting
Time: Mar 22, 2021 07:30 PM London
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 893 1526 8785
Passcode: 531822
Kind regards

Fawkham Parish Council

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