Our Town, Our Future – it matters

Our Town, Our Future – it matters

For latest information, click here or copy and paste below!
https://www.folkestone-hythe.gov.uk/folkestoneplaceplan

POST UPDATED 20TH MARCH 2021

In recent weeks, several members and associates of AFRA have been seeking to engage in the consultation on the future of Folkestone Town Centre.
As always, we have taken a constructive position – welcoming the principle and highlighting the importance of this for our town.

Inevitably, some mistakes have been made in the course of this work – we have politely drawn these to the attention of the consultants and the District Council.
We have opened the door to discussions on how to remediate these – our message to key Councillors and the lead consultancy is published below.

  1. We need a transparent consultation which starts and ends with the views and wishes of local people – not just those with influence or possible vested interests.
  2. We need a plan which truly recognises the amenities, assets and community collateral of this wonderful place
  3. We need to respect our heritage and history, which will be a key building block for the future – as visitor attractions, community centres and meeting points.
  4. We need a commitment to building a great future together – with the community and for the community – for Folkestone: Our Town, Our Future.

To: 

Cllr. David Monk and Emily Temperton (We Made That consultancy) 

I am writing, after discussion among AFRA partners, to provide observations on the current consultation concerning Folkestone Town Centre.
If you are not familiar with AFRA, the group is very simply an informal alliance of residents groups, also working with civic groups where we have common interest.  

We take an apolitical and non-partisan stance on issues of shared concern or shared opportunity. The future of the town centre of Folkestone is clearly such an issue, being of real significance for everyone who lives in our community, works in the District or visits the area. The statement attached and this email are being shared with a number of interested parties and will also be shared with our media contacts and posted on our website shortly.

  • We Made That
  • Council lead officers and group leaders for each of the main political parties at Folkestone and Hythe District Council
  • Council lead officers and group leaders for each of the main political parties at Folkestone Town Council
  • A number of our partners and others with an interest in the community consultation process

Firstly, we very much welcome the principle of consultation, given the significance of this work which will play a large part in shaping the town for present and future generations.

Secondly, after some involvement in online sessions which form part of the consultation process, we would wish to put on record a sense of some emerging concerns.
The current consultation process frankly does not seem to be meeting the needs of the community adequately in terms of preparation and research, inclusion of key groups or transparency of process and information access.  There are in fact indications of some regrettable major oversights – which can of course be remedied, but have coloured some of the responses we are aware of – as you will be:

  • The lack of any reference to the impact of CoVid on the community, investment and changes in economic context going forward
  • The omission of significant  aspects of the town’s heritage and character, notably including St Eanswythes Church where you will also find the original Folkestone Town Cross 
  • A seemingly marginal involvement of Folkestone Town Council in this consultation, despite the Town Hall itself being at the epicentre of the area under discussion.
  • The failure to provide a reasonable supply of information in the public domain on the process and progress of this work

There are other matters, which no doubt individuals and other groups will have brought to your attention. As such, we would suggest that the process really now needs urgently to be reviewed.

AFRA seeks as a point of principle to offer constructive criticism and to be part of the solution in looking at opportunities for community development. 

You’ll see that our statement recognises the significance of this work – and hopefully you will understand that these comments are intended to be helpful. We look forward to your response – the AFRA group is currently considering with others the possible need for additional consultation mechanisms.

We would be happy to discuss this further.
With kind regards

Jon O’Connor
AFRA coordinator

15th March 2021

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White Paper consultation on planning

For those interested in the levers and mechanisms governing development, there are links provided here fo the white paper Changes to the Current Planning System consultation, which closed recently.
The key information on proposals are contained a further second stage consultation on the Planning for the Future white paper and its consultation, which closes at 11.45pm on 29 October. 


As these matters affect our lives and our environment for generations to come, we hope this information will be useful and that some of our readers will respond with their views on these proposed changes.

Homelessness: a consultation

AFRA is encouraging all Folkestone residents to contribute to the FHDC consultation on meeting the needs of homeless and vulnerable members of the community.

A draft of the Homelessness Prevention Strategy for the next five years (2020 to 2025) has been published and feedback is welcomed until 2 October 2020.

The new plan sets out the council’s three priority areas:

◼️ Ending rough sleeping

◼️ Early intervention, prevention and support

◼️ Ensuring a good supply of affordable and suitable accommodation.

Included among the innovative aims to meet the priorities is the adoption of what is known as a Housing First approach. This provides intensive support for those who have been homeless with the aim of creating a stable home and enabling people to rebuild their lives.

Exploring the possibility of setting up a Social Enterprise Scheme to provide training and employment opportunities is also put forward in the strategy. To do this the council suggests bringing together a working group to include those who have been homeless, business entrepreneurs, council representatives and those from educational establishments.

Within the strategy the council outlines its commitment to building 1,000 new homes for rent and shared ownership between 2025 and 2035. Community Led Housing schemes, in which local people take action to address their own community’s housing needs, are also proposed.

Councillor David Godfrey, F&HDC Cabinet member for Housing, said: “This review of our five year strategy comes at a time when COVID-19 has brought into sharp focus the needs of people sleeping rough and of households facing the threat of becoming homeless.

“Our plans look at how we can work with our partners in the voluntary and statutory sectors to intervene even earlier before a household becomes threatened with becoming homeless. We want to identify those in need of support as soon as possible to prevent evictions wherever possible.

“We hope people will take the time to read what we are proposing. Perhaps we may also interest those who would like to be part of our suggested working group and work with the council to prevent and resolve homelessness.”

The Homelessness Act 2002 requires every local authority to review and renew their Homelessness Strategy every five years. Our previous strategy was a joint East Kent Homelessness Prevention Strategy, adopted by Folkestone & Hythe, Canterbury, Dover & Thanet councils and agreed in 2014. 

Over the last few years there has been significant legislative change and welfare reform.  Each council is now focusing on their area’s particular needs and producing strategies which reflect those needs.

The strategy and more information can be found by clicking here.

Community Champions

The idea behind Community Champions was very easy to come up with.

We all know someone who regularly makes your day – just does something or says something habitually which brightens everything up.
They go above and beyond the call of duty or what you might expect: the postman, the grocer, the neighbour…
And in the recent months during the Coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown, these were great people.
They might say that they did nothing special, that they just did their job. But they did more than that.
They all in their different ways made a difference to other peoples lives – and for that, we thank them.

You’ll find their stories in the gallery below.
We hope to have more to share with you, as we pick up recommendations from members of their community and have the pleasure and privilege of saying very simply:

“Thank you for making a difference to everyday life. “

The Community Champions scheme is sponsored by The Woodshed Gallery, a Folkestone small business – and we are grateful to them for their generosity.
We are looking for other sponsors to pick up the baton so that we can carry on appreciating these great people in our community.

Each of our Champions receives a certificate and a voucher towards a meal at one of the L&B group of eating houses:
The Pullman, Lubens Pizza house, The Market Square, The Harbour Inn and their new venture at Tin and Tap.

First thoughts!

AFRA was born from a simple concept: we want to make a difference by working together.

Who are we? We started meeting as a group of Residents Associations representing communities in and around the Folkestone & Hythe District. Over time, some additional members have joined the group, reflecting a common set of interests.

Will it make a difference? We hope so.

In place of the very justifiable expressions of frustration that we all get involved in from time to time, AFRA is all about working together to come up with positive ideas, solutions and suggestions for making Folkestone and Hythe a better place to live and work.

If we don’t make constructive suggestions, then we can’t complain if things don’t get any better.

And one thing that the CoVid19 virus has shown all of us: we are all in this together.