Design South East has been commissioned by Faversham Town Council and Swale Borough Council to help the people of Faversham map out a vision and ideas for the future of their historic town. Design South East staff, supported by members of our expert panel, facilitated two days of workshops looking at local facilities, connectivity, the future shape of the town and its character. The workshops were attended by town and district councillors, representatives of businesses, amenity groups, churches and other local organisations. It was a hands-on exercise with participants using big plans of the town and its centre to map out what they valued in the town, what they saw as its challenges and their ideas for change.
Faversham is a compact historic town with most of its residents living no more than a kilometre from its centre. Sites allocated in the emerging Swale Local Plan, many of which are subject to planning applications will mean that within a few years Faversham will have a two-kilometre radius. A key concern is that that the new residents of those developments feel part of Faversham and regularly use the town centre for shopping and recreation. Issues of connectivity for pedestrians, cycles and cars were therefore a key part of the discussion. Much of the new housing will be the other side of the busy A2 from the rest of Faversham and so the future status and design of that road is a key concern. The character of new developments was also a big talking point and participants recognised that it was not always appropriate to copy the historic core of Faversham but the existing town could provide ques as to how the new edge of the town should look and feel.
Immediately after the workshops Design South East was able to provide some advice to Swale Borough Council, based the workshop conclusions, on the planning applications going currently going through the system. Many of these had already been seen by Design South East’s Swale Design Review Panel, but the workshops were able to prioritise key issues for the planning authority to ask applicants to address. A fuller report will follow with ideas for initiatives such as public realm improvements which can provide a ‘shopping list’ for when funding becomes available and policy recommendations that can inform future local planning documents.