Consultations

Consultation on planning system reforms

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is consulting on two sets of reforms to the planning system.

The first, Changes to the current planning system, includes:

  • changes to the standard method for assessing local housing need
  • securing of First Homes through developer contributions
  • temporarily lifting the small sites threshold
  • extending the current Permission in Principle to major development

This is likely to increase the assessed need for housing in Ashford.

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/changes-to-the-current-planning-system

The second, Planning for the future, relates to the wider changes that have been announced by the government. The Government press release states that the proposals include:

  • plans to overhaul outdated planning system and reform the way the country builds
  • Plans to streamline process, cut red tape and harness technology to deliver homes faster
  • Valued green spaces protected for future generations, with more building on brownfield land
  • Building beautiful homes with communities at heart of new planning system
  • 30% discount through First Homes, with an emphasis on key workers

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/launch-of-planning-for-the-future-consultation-to-reform-the-planning-system

Arlington payphone removal.

Red telephone box

Ashford Borough Council have received notice that the payphone at No. 58 Arlington is one of five that BT intend to remove in addition to those publicised in June last year.

Ashford Borough Council will not adopt the payphone but there is an opportunity for a local community group to do so. BT would like to hear the view of the community on the proposal.

Please comment on this post – we will feed your comments back to ABC.

BT’s letter to ABC says:

We’re continually reviewing the demand for our payphones. Further to our letter of 28 June 2019 we’ve now identified an additional 5 public payphones that we’re proposing for removal under the 90 day consultation process and details of these payphones are attached. We’d welcome your feedback on whether the payphones in question are still needed. We greatly appreciate your help with this.

To ensure that the local community are fully informed, we have placed consultation notices on the relevant payphones, and a sample notice is enclosed. We have also included the date we posted these notices on
the payphones. The consultation period will close on 14 May 2020.

This consultation process gives your local communities the opportunity to adopt a traditional red ‘heritage’ phone box and make it an asset that local people can enjoy. It’s really simple to do and it costs just £1.00
http://bt.com/adopt

Overall use of payphones has declined by over 90 per cent in the last decade and the need to provide payphones for use in emergency situations is diminishing all the time, with at least 98 per cent of the UK
having either 3G or 4G coverage. This is important because as long as there is network coverage, it’s now possible to call the emergency services, even when there is no credit or no coverage from your own mobile provider.

You may also want to consider Ofcom’s affordability report which found that most people do not view payphones as essential for most consumers in most circumstances http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/research/affordability/affordability_report.pdf

On the 14 March 2006 Ofcom published a statement following their 2005 review of universal service in the telecommunications market, which includes a requirement for payphone provision to meet reasonable
needs. Part of that statement amended our obligations with regard to the removal of payphone service:
https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf file/0021/34266/statement.pdf

As stated in Ofcom’ review,it is the responsibility of the local authority to initiate its own consultation process to canvas the views of the local community. They would normally expect these consultations to involve other public organisations such parish or community councils work within the terms of the Communications Act . This means that you must able to objectively justify your decisions guidance on the removal process can be viewed at:
http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/consultations/uso/statement/removals.pdf
and a summary is available at:
http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/consultations/uso/statement/removing_callboxes.pdf

The guidance also details the appeals process we must follow in case of unreasonable objections.
If you wish to’object’, you will need to give your reasons, having reviewed all of the factors set out in Annex 1 of Ofcom’s guidance (see link above), and the information sent to you in our previous letter.

KFRS Safety and Wellbeing Plan 2020

You have probably never spent much time considering how your fire and rescue service works to reduce the likelihood of an emergency happening to you. We hope this brief guide gives you a reassuring insight into the depth of the planning and work that goes on to help you stay safe. 

We need and want to tell you about what we think the issues are, and consult you on any proposals we want to make which change the service you receive. This plan is mostly to tell you how we do this, what we think about and what we then do with the information. It also covers some investments for the future we are making, and where we want to set the Council Tax for 2020/21. 

All fire services, by law, have to assess risks in their areas. In Kent and Medway we want to get the best possible understanding and assessment of public safety across Kent and Medway, and all the things that we think could reasonably predict happening that could cause injury or loss of property. This is best done with your help so we understand the issues which could make you more vulnerable, and the needs you have from us. We can then develop ways to help change behaviour to reduce harm, through our prevention work, or our emergency response service.

It’s all about you…

We focus on people and how their individual needs can best be served. For example:

  • People living with some forms of dementia, or physical or mental disabilities may be more vulnerable to fire and may need tailored support in the event of an emergency.
  • People may be at risk because of the nature of buildings in which they live.
  • People could be impacted by risks in their local area, such as grass fires, coastal flooding or similar risks within their community. 

We look at these alongside broader issues in society such as how populations change and how a warmer climate might affect fires. 

Bringing all these risks together we work out the blend of fire stations, firefighters and specialist equipment and teams that we need, in order to get to you as quickly as possible within the money we have available to us. We look at what work we can do to prevent fires and road traffic collisions by helping people change to safer behaviours, and also what we can do to make buildings safer.

The first part of this plan is a summary of the eight elements we bring together to understand how best to serve you. We are very happy to give you a more in-depth explanation should you wish by emailing information.officer@kent.fire-uk.org

Nick Chard, Chairman of Kent and Medway Fire and Rescue Authority

Emerging ideas for the former Mecca Bingo site

Following the discussion at the June 2018 meeting of the South Ashford Community Forum, Ashford Borough Council have published emerging proposals for the former Mecca Bingo / Odeon site.

High streets up and down the country are facing challenging times due to online shopping and the changing way town centre are being used. This means they need to reinvent themselves and what they offer to residents and visitors.

The Council is looking to regenerate the town centre so that:

  • it is an attractive and safe place to live and visit, where people feel welcome and have a sense of community and belonging
  • it offers unique and fun experiences for everyone to enjoy in the daytime, evening and at night
  • it is a thriving place that is accessible, easy to navigate and well managed.

The former Mecca/Odeon site and the adjacent Vicarage Lane car park presents a unique opportunity to drive forward these objectives which could bring more people to the town centre and provide better facilities for residents.

The Council would like to hear your views.

To see more details and participate in the survey go to www.ashford.gov.uk/mecca

SACF response to LGBCE Draft Proposals

 

1          Summary

ABC warding proposal for South Ashford

Figure 1 LGBCE Draft Recommendations

This document forms South Ashford Community Forum’s (SACF) response to the Draft Recommendations produced by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England (LGBCE) as part of an Electoral Review of Ashford Borough Council.

SACF objects to the warding proposed for the unparished area of South Ashford as it fails to address the issues identified in its submission to the Consultation on Warding Arrangements (previous submission) and exacerbates the separation of the Watercress area from the rest of the ward.

The LGBCE has failed to acknowledge SACF’s previous submission in its report on the Draft Recommendations.

SACF has reviewed the data used in its previous submission and adjusted the number of voters likely to arise from new development to align with Ashford Borough Council’s Housing Trajectory. Although this gives a reduced electorate, compared with that forecast in the previous submission, it is still considered that the unparished area of South Ashford warrants five full seats in the Council and presents a proposal which resolves the issues identified in the previous submission.

With the exception of Figure 4, the maps we have used have been created using Google Maps. Clicking on the map image will link to the online maps.

2          Draft Recommendations

The LGBCE Draft Recommendations for wards for South Ashford are illustrated in Figure 1.

The proposal is based on a submission during the initial consultation by Ashford Borough Council. It retains the existing wards that cover South Ashford with the following differences:

  • Recommendations made during the 2015 Community Governance Review in respect of the boundaries between Beaver Ward and the Parish of Great Chart with Singleton and between Norman Ward and the Parish of Kingsnorth have been adopted,
  • Arlington, Boxley, Clockhouse and that part of Brookfield Road that was in Victoria Ward will be in Beaver Ward,
  • Those parts of Victoria Ward that are north of Somerset Road and New Street will be removed to Stour Ward, renamed Furley Ward,
  • The area between Chart Road and the Charing Cross to Ashford railway line have been moved from Godinton Ward to Victoria Ward, and
  • A small change to the boundary of Beaver with Norman Ward to bring the whole of the extended Farrow Court into Beaver Ward.

3          Current Ward Boundaries

Figure 2 Current ward boundaries

The comments made in the previous submission are reproduced for clarity:

The shapes of the district council wards that serve the unparished area of South Ashford have long been a concern of South Ashford Community Forum. The proposals put forward in this document seek to rectify the issues created by the shapes of the existing wards, whilst accounting for a likely increase in the electorate.
The Victoria Ward includes the town centre, the Christchurch area and the north-west part of the Brookfield Estate with Watercress.

The Town Centre is separated from the remainder of the Ward by the Charing Cross to Ashford railway line. Whilst the Beaver Road (Station) Bridge lands within the ward to the north and south of the railway, it is a busy dual carriageway and acts more as a division between the communities than a link. The communities of the Brookfield and Watercress estates are physically separated from those of Christchurch area by the open space of Victoria Park and the sites of the Ashford College and South School. The only roads linking the two are Brookfield Road/Beaver Lane that passes through Beaver Ward and Leacon Road / Victoria Road that forms the spine road for the Chart Industrial Estate and does not form a satisfactory community link.

The Norman Ward has a large land area, most of which is undeveloped or comprises commercial development. Two distinct residential communities of Torrington Road and Hampden are separated by industrial / retail estates.

Figure 3 Current ward residential areas

These issues are represented in Figure 3 that shows the wards excluding the areas that have no no dwellings.

In addition to the topological issues, four of the eight Lower Layer Super Output Areas (indicatedin Figure 4) that make up the unparished area ofSouth Ashford, including those covering Brookfield and Watercress, are among are the 20% most deprived in England (Department for Communities and Local Government, 2015) and therefore have needs very different to those of the town centre.

Inclusion of these topologically and socially disparate areas renders effective representation of the electorate in those areas more difficult for councillors.

4          Comments on Draft Recommendations

The proposal exacerbates problems created by the existing shape of Victoria Ward in that

  • a smaller area, hence number of voters, in the Watercress area to the west of Brookfield will be isolated from other parts of the ward,
  • a larger area of the ward is north of the Charing Cross to Ashford Railway line, which is likely render effective representation of the electorate in South Ashford more difficult for councillors.

Figure 4 South Ashford LSOAs in 20% most deprived

The proposal makes no substantive change to Norman Ward, hence fails to address the concerns expressed in our previous submission.

4.1          Victoria Ward

The LGBCE’s Report states in respect of Furley and Victoria Wards

“We received two submissions concerning the area of Furley and Victoria, from the Council and a local organisation. The two submissions proposed differing boundaries.

“We are proposing to accept the Council’s scheme in this area as it allows for better electoral equality than the alternative which proposed a significantly higher variance. Both Furley and Victoria are based on the existing wards in this area, with a slight amendment to the boundary between the two. Both wards will have a good level of electoral equality by 2022.”

SACF is aware of three submissions relating to Victoria Ward, ABC’s, one by Central Ashford Community Forum and our own. A similar statement in the Report relating to Beaver and Norman Wards leads us to believe that the SACF submission has been disregarded.

4.1.1          Development

We do not believe that sufficient account has been taken of new development within the proposed Victoria Ward boundaries.

There are four major residential developments currently under way or planned in that part of the proposed Ward that lies north of the Charing Cross to Ashford railway line: Panorama, Trafalgar House, Godinton Way and Elwick Place. Based on the submitted planning applications and the Housing Trajectory included in ABC’s Draft Local Plan (Ashford Borough Council, 2016) these add 520 dwellings to the ward. This does not take into account a number of smaller conversions of commercial premises to residential under way or proposed.

There are three major developments for which planning applications have been submitted within the ward in South Ashford: the Powergen Site, Victoria Way East and the Travis Perkins sites. A further site, Leacon Road, is shown in the Council’s Housing Trajectory as being developed before 2022.

  • The Powergen site, for which planning permission has been granted, comprises 660 residential units, however the Housing Trajectory indicates that 250 of these are planned to be complete by 2022. We included the whole of this development in the estimate of the electorate given in our previous submission.
  • Victoria Way East, for which planning permission is pending completion of a Section 106 agreement, includes 216 units.
  • The Travis Perkins sites for which permission is also pending completion of a Section 106 agreement, comprises 59 units. This site is not included in the Council’s Housing Trajectory.
  • Leacon Road is shown in the current and Draft Local Plan as including 100 residential Units.

The total number of dwellings due to be completed by 2022 in these South Ashford, Victoria Ward developments is 625. This excludes small infill developments.

4.1.2         Estimated electorate
Table 1 Estimate of proposed Victoria Ward Electorate
Voters
2016 Electorate 3,968
Move to Furley -360
Move from Godinton 627
Move to Beaver -449
Net movements -182
Net existing electorate 3,786
Additional from development 1,968
Forecast Total 5,754

Victoria Ward had 3,968 voters in February 2016. The change in boundaries creates a net reduction of 182 existing voters compared with the existing ward, giving 3,786 existing voters in the ward as proposed in the Draft Recommendations. The Draft Recommendations Report gives the 2022 electorate as 4,103 thus allowing 317 additional voters. From 4.1 above the total number of new dwellings planned is 1145. This implies that the the Draft Recommendations include a provision 0.28 voters for each new dwelling.

The developments in the town centre are mainly flats hence we propose a conservative estimate of 1.5 voters per dwelling this would increase the electorate by 781 voters.

The developments in the South of the Ward are of mixed types and sizes, hence we believe that the number of voters per unit will be similar to the existing in South Ashford at 1.9, hence adding 1187 voters to the ward.

We therefore estimate that 1968 voters arise from new development, giving a total of 5754 (35% above the Borough average).

4.2          Beaver Ward

The LGBCE’s report states that only one submission was made in relation to Beaver and Norman Wards, that being Ashford Borough Council’s again apparently ignoring SACF’s submission.

The proposals move Arlington, Boxley and Clockhouse to the existing ward from Victoria Ward. From data obtained from Ashford Borough Council there were 449 voters in these streets.

The small change at the boundary with the Parish of Great Chart with Singleton moves 9 voters out of the ward.

4.2.1          Development

There is a small change at its boundary with Norman Ward to include the whole of the extended Farrow Court sheltered housing accommodation. This redevelopment will increase the number of occupants. It is understood that Phase 1 of the development was complete and occupied, comprising 33 flats within which there were 26 voters. A further 51 flats were still to be built, from which we estimate an additional 40 voters would be added to the ward.

The Council’s Planning Committee voted to permit the redevelopment of the Ashford College site in Jemmett Road in 2011. This permission was granted in December 2016, when the Section 106 Agreement was signed. The College will move to new premises in September 2017. The developer has indicated that he intends to construct approximately 160 dwellings of mixed size. We estimate that this will add 304 voters to the ward.

Our submission to the Consultation on Warding Arrangements included the site adjacent to the College site, the South School Site. However the Council’s Housing Trajectory shows this as being developed later than 2022.

4.2.2          Estimated Electorate

The Council’s submitted data gives an electorate of 4242 voters in 2016.

There will be a net gain of 440 existing voters, giving a total of 4682 existing voters. 344 voters will be added as a result of development giving a total electorate of 5026, 18% above the borough average.

4.3          Norman Ward

Norman Ward is unaffected by the proposals other than the change to the Boundary with the Parish of Kingsnorth, which does not affect any existing or planned voters, and the small change to the boundary with Beaver Ward.

4.3.1          Development

The only substantial planned residential development in the Ward is 38 dwellings on the site of Concorde House, Austin Road, which could add 72 voters to the Ward.

4.3.2          Estimated Electorate

The electorate will increase from 2074 in 2016 to 2146 in 2022, less than 1% variance.

5          Proposal for Ward Boundaries in South Ashford

Figure 5 Proposed ward boundaries

Table 2 Current Electorate
Ward Voters
Beaver 4035
Norman 1989
Victoria 3781
Total inc Town Centre 9814
exc Town Centre * 8962
* Excludes 9 voters in Lodge Close and The Burrows
Table 3 Forecast electorate
Voters
Existing 8962
Leacon Way 190
Powergen (250 dwellings / 660) 477
Victoria Way 429
College 303
Concorde House 38
Total 10537
Table 4 Electorate in proposed wards
Proposed Ward Electorate Variance to
Borough Average
Brookfield 4309 1.4%
Christchurch 4001 -5.9%
Woolreeds 2218 4.4%
The calculation of the electorate in each ward is given in Appendix 1

Taking into account the development identified in 4 above the total electorate in the unparished area of South Ashford will be 10528 in 2022 less than 1% below the average for five councillors.

Whilst we would prefer that single seat wards were used we have been unable to identify suitable ward boundaries to create five single seat wards. It is therefore proposed that three wards are created, two of two seats and one of one seat.

Ward boundaries are arranged to, as far as is practical, resolve the issues raised regarding the existing wards. The proposed wards are shown in Figure 5.

The wards proposed are compact, with good road links within the wards, thus assisting effective representation.

6          Central Ashford Wards

SACF has not carried out a detailed analysis of the changes to the Central Ashford wards, other than the impact of development and proposed changes and development on the Central Ashford part of Victoria Ward detailed in 4.1 above. From that analysis the electorate in the north part of the Victoria Ward as proposed in the Draft Recommendations will be 1,917. That in the proposed Furley Ward will be 4,628. Summing these figures gives a total of 6,364. This is equivalent to 11 voters below the proposed average for three councillors. The size of the town centre ward could be balanced to a single seat ward by reinstating all or part of the area moved to Furley Ward in the Draft Recommendations.

7          Conclusion

South Ashford Community Forum proposes that

  • the unparished area of South Ashford is represented by five councillors serving two, two seat wards and one single seat wards as illustrated in Figure 6.
  • the district ward boundary at Knoll Lane runs along the centre of Knoll Lane and the boundaries of the adjacent wards intersect with it at the junction of Knoll Lane and Cuckoo Lane,
  • the boundary of district wards to the south of the unparished area is aligned to be coterminous with the boundary of the Parish of Kingsnorth.

The proposal will create the need for an extra seat on the Council.

8          Bibliography

Ashford Borough Council. (2016). Draft Local Plan – Regulation 19 Version. Ashford, Kent.
Department for Communities and Local Government. (2015). The English Indices of Deprivation 2015. London.

9          South Ashford Community Forum

South Ashford Community Forum is an open forum set up to represent the views of people living and working in the unparished area of South Ashford and to help communicate those views to Ashford Borough Council, Kent County Council and other statutory organisations.The area represented by South Ashford Community Forum comprises the whole of the current Beaver and Norman district council wards and that part of Victoria Ward that lies to the South of the Charing Cross to Dover railway line

Appendix 1 Ward size calculations (Download pdf)

SACF response to Kent Transport Plan

Local Transport PlanSouth Ashford Community Forum have started a review of the Draft Local Transport Plan prepared by Kent County Council.

A copy of the response is available at https://southashford.org.uk/index.php/category/consultations/kltp/ or can be downloaded as a pdf.

The Draft Local Transport Plan and associated documents are available from the KCC website:
http://consultations.kent.gov.uk/consult.ti/LTP4/consultationHome

Ambition

The draft Local Transport Plan sets out the following Ambition for Kent:

To deliver safe and effective transport, ensuring that all Kent’s communities and businesses benefit, the environment is enhanced and economic growth is supported.

Q3. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the overall Ambition set for the Local Transport Plan?

Strongly agree

Q3a. Please add any comments on the overall Ambition set for the Local Transport Plan

Outcomes

Q4. This Ambition will be realised through five overarching Outcomes and Supporting Policies. To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the Outcomes and Policies?

Outcome 1. Economic growth and minimised congestion.

Policy: Deliver resilient transport infrastructure and schemes to reduce congestion and improve journey time reliability, to enable economic growth and appropriate development.

Strongly agree

Outcome 2. Affordable and accessible door to door journeys.

Policy: Promote affordable, accessible and connected transport to enable access for all to jobs, education, health and other services.

Strongly agree

Outcome 3. Safer travel.

Policy: Provide a safer road, footway and cycleway network to reduce the likelihood of casualties, and encourage other transport providers to improve safety on their networks.

Strongly agree

Outcome 4. Enhanced environment.

Policy: Deliver schemes to reduce the environmental footprint of transport, and enhance the historic and natural environment.

Strongly agree

Outcome 5. Better health and wellbeing.

Policy: Promote active travel choices for all members of the community to encourage good health and wellbeing, and implement measures to improve local air quality.

Strongly agree

Q4a. Please add any comments on the five overarching Outcomes and Supporting Policies

 

Strategic Priorities

Q5. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the Strategic Priorities for the Local Transport Plan? (Pages 11 to 21 in the LTP)

  • Enabling growth in the Thames Gateway;
    The transport investments that are required to deliver planned development and the measures that need to be taken to bring them forward will be prioritised. Transport schemes include enhancements to the road network along the A2 corridor and public transport improvements including extending Crossrail into Kent. These measures require strategic Government decisions, public sector funding and efforts to secure private investment. Transport improvements needed to deliver growth in the Thames Gateway Kent:

    • A2 Bean junction upgrade,
    • A2 Ebbsfleet junction upgrade,
    • Increased high speed rail services to Ebbsfleet
    • Crossrail extension from Abbey Wood to Dartford, Ebbsfleet and Gravesend.

    Agree
    Whilst we support improvements to public transport to serve the development in the Thames Gateway and believe that travel by road should be constrained to limit the impact of the development on the strategic road network we would object to expansion of High Speed Rail Services to Ebbsfleet at the expense of those to Ashford.

  • A new Lower Thames Crossing;
    The existing Dartford Crossing is the shortest freight route between Kent and the major distribution centres in the Midlands and the North. However, the capacity is overloaded for large periods of the day and it is extremely vulnerable to incidents – over 300 times a year the Crossing is fully or partially closed. Due to congestion and delays, it affects productivity and constrains economic growth. We are clear that a new Lower Thames Crossing, to the east of Gravesend, is required to unlock growth, improve journey time reliability, improve network resilience, and enable opportunities for regeneration. In the 2016 consultation, our response was adamant that the Western Southern Link should be chosen and that with careful route alignment and tunnelling, the environmental and heritage impacts could be substantially minimised. As part of the project to deliver the new Lower Thames Crossing the A229 between M2 Junction 3 and M20 Junction 6 should be upgraded (what has previously been called Option C ‘variant’) along with improvements to the A249 as another link between the two motorways and the upgrades identified for ‘bifurcation of port traffic’ set out in the next section.
    Strongly agree
  • Bifurcation of port traffic;
    It is vital to the UK economy that the Channel Corridor operates efficiently at all times and is resilient to incidents on the network. Port traffic is currently routed along the M20/A20, which results in severance between Dover town centre and the harbour. With the construction of a new Lower Thames Crossing, a second strategic route will be available between Dover and the Midlands and North. The project to revive the Dover Western Docks plus expansion of the existing Port would naturally split traffic so that for the Western Docks and Channel Tunnel would use the M20/A20, and traffic for the Eastern Docks would be encouraged to use the M2/A2.
    Bifurcation will also facilitate growth of Whitfield, Folkestone, Ashford and Maidstone by releasing capacity on the M20.
    To deliver bifurcation, the following upgrades are required:

    • M2 Junction 7 (Brenley Corner) improvements to improve capacity and provide free-flow between the M2 and A2.
    • Dualling sections of single carriageway on the A2 north of Dover along Jubilee Way to Whitfield and near Lydden.
    • M20 Junction 7 improvements to provide ease of access between the A249 and M20.
    • M2 Junction 5 Stockbury improvements to provide free-flow between the M2 and A249.

    Strongly agree

  • Port Expansion
    The Government’s Port Policy Review Interim Report forecast a 101% increase in roll on – roll off ferry traffic by 2030 (HGVs and LGVs driving on and off ferries). To accommodate this growth, constraints in the south east’s capacity for short-sea routes to the Continent have to be overcome. Dover Harbour Board’s master planning has shown that the existing Eastern Docks would not provide sufficient capacity and therefore the Port plan to redevelop the Western Docks.
    The Western Docks will provide a cargo terminal with a port-centric distribution centre, allowing the existing cargo operations to move out of the Eastern Docks so that capacity within the existing dedicated ferry terminal can be increased. The redevelopment would also kick-start the regeneration of Dover town, attracting investment, creating jobs and improving the appearance of the Waterfront. The scheme will remodel the Prince of Wales and York Street roundabouts on the A20.
    Strongly agree
    Whilst we agree with the need to accommodate traffic growth at the Port of Dover we consider that more research and investment should be provided into expansion of rail freight through the Channel Tunnel and the County to minimise the need for increased road capacity. Use of road pricing for HGV vehicles should be investigated as a means to balance the economic advantages of road use over rail. This should be accompanied by a reduction in Vehicle Tax for HGVs to offset the cost increase for UK operators.
  • A solution to Operation Stack;
    When there is disruption at the Port of Dover or Eurotunnel, Operation Stack may be implemented and sections of the M20 closed to hold lorries. The impacts are estimated to cost the Kent and Medway economy over £1.5m per day, with the wider costs to the UK economy being much greater. When the motorway traffic is rerouted onto M2, A20 and the local road network it has detrimental impacts on the communities along these routes. The use of Operation Stack creates a negative perception of Kent as a place to do business.
    We are working with Highways England who is leading on the delivery of a Lorry Area that will reduce the need to use the M20 to queue freight vehicles during times of disruption to cross-Channel services. In addition to this work, we will lobby for more freight to be transported by rail although we acknowledge that limited train paths for rail freight and the economics of transporting goods by roads limits the scope for significant modal shift.
    Strongly agree
    We agree that Operation Stack must be addressed urgently to stop the impact, not only on the strategic road network but also on the local roads that are used as diversion routes during Operation Stack and its the economic consequences. Work must be continued beyond the current proposal which is acknowledged by Highways England to provide capacity for only half of the potential current requirement. Research and investment must be provided into the use of technology, to control entry of freight vehicles into the county, a national strategy to address lorry parking and development of rail freight to reduce the potential increase in HGV traffic.
  • Provision for overnight lorry parking;
    Kent has a high demand for lorry parking spaces because of its connectivity to continental Europe attracting high volumes of cross-Channel freight. We are developing a strategy for a network of small lorry parks at suitable locations across Kent and a partnership approach with the Districts and the Police to address enforcement. The proposed Operation Stack Lorry Area adjacent to the M20 at Stanford should be integrated with this overall strategy. This strategy should also include improved management of freight traffic through Kent utilising technology to direct HGVs to parking sites and available cross Channel services, i.e. ‘ticketing’ flexibility between Eurotunnel and ferry operators to ensure optimum fluidity of freight movement.
    Combined with a multi-agency approach to enforcement, the provision of additional lorry parking capacity will reduce antisocial behaviour on the public highway, including littering. This will also reduce unsafe lorry parking, such as vehicles overhanging laybys, and so improve road safety.
    Strongly agree
    KCC must push for its strategy for HGV parking to be extended throughout the South East and beyond, to allow management of HGV movement into the County at times of excess traffic flow.
  • Ashford International Station signalling.
    Ashford International Station is linked to High Speed 1 by two sections of railway known as the Ashford Spurs. The signalling on these spurs needs to be upgraded to permit the operation of the new Eurostar Class e320 trains into Ashford International Station. We, working in partnership with Ashford Borough Council, have led a working group with all concerned stakeholders to fund, procure and deliver an upgrade to the signalling system. The delivery of the upgraded signalling system by Network Rail will enable Ashford to continue to operate as an international station, serving the new fleet of Class e320 Eurostar trains, as well as any future international rail operators such as Deutsche Bahn.
    Strongly agree
  • Thanet Parkway Railway Station;
    The districts of Canterbury, Dover, Shepway and Thanet together form East Kent. The area suffers from increased deprivation when compared with West Kent, and the wider South East. Poor accessibility has discouraged major employers from locating in the area, and prevents regeneration. We are seeking to deliver a new railway station to significantly improve rail connectivity to the area.
    The station will provide access to greater employment opportunities for local residents, increase the attractiveness for investment in Discovery Park Enterprise Zone and numerous surrounding business parks in Thanet, and support local housing growth including Stone Hill Park on the former Manston Airport site if this is granted planning permission. The estimated journey time from Thanet Parkway to London St Pancras will be just over 20 minutes shorter than that from Deal to London St Pancras, therefore a new station enhances the accessibility of the wider area of East Kent.Rail connectivity between London, Ashford and Thanet will be improved by delivery of the Journey Time Improvement (JTI) scheme. This aims to reduce the journey time between Ashford and Ramsgate. The first phase, between Ashford and Canterbury West, is due for completion by May 2017; the second phase, between Canterbury West and Ramsgate, is due for completion by 2019/20.
    Neither agree nor disagree
  • Rail and Bus Improvements
    We need a public transport system that is integrated, affordable, and therefore an attractive option for our residents. One barrier for many people is the cost of commuting by train, which can prevent people from being able to access employment, particularly in London. This is known as the ‘rail price penalty’ and we will work with Government and the rail franchisee to identify options to reduce this. We have made good progress on promoting improvements to rail passenger services through the Rail Action Plan for Kent, and this has led to KCC being recognised as a voice of authority on rail matters for the South East. We will now work to influence the new South Eastern rail franchise (2018) as well as continuing to run annual Rail Summits to stand up for Kent’s passengers. We support the proposal for an extension of Crossrail 1 from Abbey Wood to Dartford, Ebbsfleet and Gravesend ensuring the delivery of additional rail capacity for the planned Ebbsfleet Garden City, London Paramount and Thames Gateway area.
    We actively support seven Quality Bus Partnerships (QBP) and Punctuality Improvement Partnerships (PIP), and we are progressing with the roll-out of smart ticketing to provide seamless travel between operators. The successful Fastrack bus service in Kent Thameside will be developed as growth occurs, and it is exemplary of a high quality bus service. We have to take a pragmatic approach to funding commercially unviable bus services and will seek to support other means of provision that can achieve the same aims, such as community bus services. However, we welcome the potential for KCC to have bus franchising powers to enhance services and create an integrated public transport network.
    Strongly agree
    We support the improvement of rail and bus passenger services. More should be done to integrate rail and bus services through combined ticketing, integrated timetables, shared passenger information systems and promotion and development of the Kent Connected website. We also believe that the rail freight should be included in the plan and research and investment into making more freight paths available on the rail network in Kent and beyond and improving the economic viability of rail freight compared with road.

Kent-Wide Priorities

Q6. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the Kent-Wide Priorities for the Local Transport Plan? (Pages 22 to 23 in the LTP)

  • Road Safety
    Under the Road Traffic Act 1989, KCC has a duty to promote road safety and act to reduce the likelihood of road casualties occurring. We also have a moral and financial imperative to do this. Our target is to reduce the number of killed and seriously injured (KSI) by 33% and child KSI by 40% (2014 to 2020). One means of addressing this is through the Crash Remedial Measures (CRM) Programme which targets safety critical schemes. These are locations where there is a statistically higher than expected number of KSI casualties. At least 50% of the Integrated Transport block funding is top sliced for CRM schemes, for which the programme can be found in annexe 3 to this LTP4. Therefore, at least 50% of transport scheme funding is prioritised for Outcome 3: Safer travel.
    In addition to this, we carry out a number of educational and enforcement activities, including working with partners in the Safer Roads Partnership. More information on this can be found in the Road Casualty Reduction Strategy. Further, through the highway maintenance programme every road and footway in the county is inspected and repairs carried out where necessary.
    Strongly agree
  • Highway Maintenance and Asset Management
    One of KCC’s primary roles is to maintain the structural integrity of the public highway, which includes targeting potholes for repair, both to ensure safe travel and prolong the life of assets. The Department for Transport (DfT) allocates Highway Maintenance Block funding based on the size of our roads, bridges, and street lighting assets as a proportion of the total asset size in England. From 2018/19 the cycleway and footway network will also be included in the calculation. To make the best use of this, and to support bids for additional central Government funding, we will implement the asset management approach advocated by the Highway Maintenance Efficiency Programme (HMEP) .
    Strongly agree
    KCC Highways needs to review the method of assessment as to what constitutes road surface deterioration that warrants repair. Whilst we acknowledge the clarity that a dimensional approach to assessing damage brings, we consider that damage that falls outside of the dimensional definition can create unacceptable increase in risk of an accident.
  • Home to School Transport
    High quality education is a priority, and where transport to school is a barrier we aim to get pupils to school safely and on time. This can take the form of advice or the provision of free or subsidised transport where the child is eligible under Section 509 of the Education Act 1996. The criteria for free transport can be found in the Home to School Transport Policy. We also offer the Young Person’s Travel Pass and this has been instrumental in encouraging school journeys to be made by bus.
    Strongly agree
    The Council should promote selection of local schools and active travel solutions for journeys to and from school.
  • Active Travel
    We aim to make active travel an attractive and realistic choice for short journeys in Kent. Active travel means walking or cycling as a means of transport rather than for leisure purposes, and it can benefit health and wellbeing by incorporating physical activity into everyday routine as well as reduce the number of vehicles on the road and improve air quality. By integrating active travel into planning, providing and maintaining appropriate routes for walking and cycling, and supporting people through training and building skills, we plan to establish Kent as a pioneering county for active travel. More information can be found in the Active Travel Strategy.
    Strongly agree
  • Aviation
    ‘Facing the Aviation Challenge’ clearly sets out our position on aviation. This centres on maximising use of existing regional airport capacity, along with some expansion of existing airports and improved rail connections. At the present time, no viable business proposition for aviation at Manston Airport has come forward but Lydd Airport plans to extend its runway and expand its terminal.
    We are clear that processes are needed to properly measure, minimise and mitigate the noise impacts of existing airport operations and airport expansion. We, along with Medway Council, are robustly opposed to the proposals for a new hub airport in the Thames Estuary. We are also opposed to a second runway at Gatwick; one of the reasons for this is the doubling of the already unacceptable noise impacts. There needs to be an immediate reduction in overflight and noise in West Kent and so we oppose proposed airspace changes that would not share the burden of overflight equitably between communities. Multiple arrival and departure routes should be used to provide periods of respite. Additionally, the level of night flights should be reduced at Gatwick to a level comparable with Heathrow.
    As part of our view on long-term aviation capacity issues, we are pressing Government for immediate action to keep UK airports competitive with European airports in terms of Air Passenger Duty (APD). This currently has a negative impact on the UK’s global connectivity and is therefore damaging UK business and tourism. Differential charging of APD at uncongested airports could also help to stimulate growth at regional airports and free up capacity at congested airports.

Strongly agree

Q6a. Please add any comments on the Kent-Wide Priorities for the Local Transport Plan below: