Articles and News

Environment Buildings and Tourism Group Sub Committee Annual Review

Go Folkestone AGM.  Wednesday 13th November. Brief on what  the regular Environment , Buildings and Tourism committee  of Go Folkestone members that continues to meet to discuss issues been doing this year , with a mention of the Magazine editorial committee’s efforts .

In the early part of the year we continued to be involved in the discussions over parking charges in the town centre. Whether by coincidence with the views of many others or not  many of our suggestions, made in writing to Robert Bliss and others were adopted. For example the lessening of parking restrictions along part of the residential stretch of The Leas and around Manor Road was adopted. Many individual suggestions within the EBTG such as putting free parking in a better signed Leas Cliff Hall , and having a 30 minute parking space outside the postal delivery service in Bouverie Square  were pushed . The former was completely adopted, which shows  SDC listen sometimes . The latter was seriously investigated and even led to other suggestions by Shepway councillors for quickie spaces near the banks. It was rejected because the wardens’ organisation insisted that it couldn’t police quickie parking places properly. AS AT NOVEMBER 2013 , as announced at the AGM , SHEPWAY DISTRICT COUNCIL HAS SAID THAT IT WILL NOT ROLL OUT THE PARKING SCHEME TO HYTHE , ROMNEY MARSH AND EVEN TO SUBURBAN FOLKESTONE . THIS IS A VICTORY FOR COMMON SENSE AND SHOWS THE COUNCIL DOES LISTEN TO PEOPLE . Now we have to press for a proper correction of any problems with  Phase 1 after one year i.e. in early 2014 .

In the parking context both I and other GF members   were recognised for our contribution by being invited onto the Shepway Parking Forum.  Shepway have said that they are consulting with disabled groups over their provision in Sandgate Road, and also plan improvements to their parking website to make it a comprehensive guide to parking in Folkestone including other private providers; the latter was another GF suggestion. These points need to be revisited. A GF guide to parking in Folkestone is a possible AP  if Shepway don’t come up to scratch, though we must consider whether sites like PARKOPEDIA work well enough.

We have been looking at all the interesting or significant planning issues and applications in the town, and trying to influence them in a way generally than promotes attractive development that preserves playing fields, trees and valuable buildings and has a high design quality. Many comments have been accepted  into the Local Development Framework, about the preservation of garden squares, the Shorncliffe Barracks development and its dependence upon the Horn Street Bridge being improved, the safeguarding of green spaces along railway lines etc

We had face to face discussions with Quinn Estates over the development of Eversley House in Coolinge Lane, encouraging them to put in the scheme that they ultimately succeeded with : discouraging multiple little closes etc . This development is now taking place and it will save the handsome College building and set it next to a new playground for Sandgate Primary School. GF defended the College in previous years by a narrowly failed attempt to get it listed which nevertheless set out its many virtues, and stopped talk of its demolition. We also were instrumental in bringing the local school into the mix to produce an attractive scheme.

Many other schemes have been considered and commented upon,  and we believe influenced, though in recent months GF did have serious internal disagreements over Folkestone Garden Centre. The redevelopment of this was improved by face to face discussions from ‘up to 100 plus offices’ down to 58 dwellings plus offices so that more trees were preserved . Some members sought compromise , and some wanted the garden centre to stay where it was and just be ‘nibbled’ around the edges. We have moved on from that argument, with some damage, and will concentrate in future  on informing people of what is actually  going on. We all hope the ‘nibbling’ development in Castle Hill Avenue  will not be succeeded by a vacation of the GC until absolutely necessary and that the GC will relocate to somewhere of character within the town .

GF also pursues the problem of derelict buildings and would like to congratulate Phil Carter himself for some progress on The White Lion in Cheriton. We have had some success in getting some action on the very poor buildings in Marine Parade,  which are at least under scaffolding now. These are a disgrace to the town . This is a live issue and any information or support is gratefully received.  We are also trying to get unkempt open areas such as Westbourne Gardens improved  through various contacts , but this can be sensitive . We applaud other initiatives such as The Town Sprucer  .

In this context of pursuing dereliction, and listing buildings if necessary , one of our members has a public question with Shepway District Council’s meeting  on 20th November which will clarify Shepway’s efforts to get the Leas Cliff Pavilion aka Leas Bar repaired and safeguarded. Informal indications are that Shepway is doing the right thing, but it will be good to get that confirmed in the public domain. GF of course got that building listed originally. This year we have been asked to investigate listing buildings such as 3 Dixwell  Road, but have merely made some representations on that, as we feel nowadays that we know what is likely to be usefully pursued.

English Heritage is currently encouraging people to sign up to a 2013 scheme to check on all Grade 2 Listed buildings around Folkestone and report back to them. Go Folkestone and Folkestone Town Council will be involved in that. Please come forward to our local meetings in Wards Hotel if you are interested to help.  The Heart Group is also involved .

Tourism wise the Town Trail is now being forwarded , with our money and help , by  Folkestone Town Council , since it has promised to take on the ownership and maintenance of the notice-boards  . We hope to get the Harvey board up for the Harvey Day celebration in May . We do hope to move on from this to encourage use of the Martello Trail with a guide . As far as local history is concerned we also hope to use the 32pp GF format to gather the best magazine contributions on topics like wartime , Folkestone Rock etc in an easy to read form .

Finally the magazine continued to improve thanks to the efforts of David Noble , Nick Spurrier and others . We push Folkestone as a destination and a place to live through the magazine, many of whose contributors are in the EBT Group . The magazine and website has a good mix of true local, even investigative journalism and articles to promote the town and neglected parts of its local history.  We MUST  however get the website to keep up with the magazine , which means a little more help , and getting Luddites like me trained up .

The Mag and Website over the coming year should become the most objective guide to  Folkestone issues if never the most instant . We need something in the town which links up local societies and puts forward serious local issues in a detailed but accessible way . We need something which provides an outlet for oral history and creative local writers , young and old . The local papers have shown signs of improvement recently but still tend to focus on traffic accidents and what they perceive as ‘human interest ‘  stories . Although websites are proliferating there is a niche for GF which has better contacts than many .

RW Nov 2013