Words by Hannah Perkin
A liveable town is one that thrives and evolves but doesn’t lose its sense of self. A liveable town houses residents that are proud and happy to identify with it, and it protects its citizens and nurtures them both physically and mentally. Faversham is a special town. It is full of people that care deeply about its future and share a strong sense of community identity. The people of Faversham value its independent business driven town centre, its natural and built heritage, its connection to the wider area and surrounding green spaces. It is appreciated as a friendly and safe town.
A liveable Faversham would mean planning to connect future development with the existing town so that residents are free to own and drive a car, but use it less. One where children can walk safely to school, adults can walk safely to work and it is as easy as possible to access amenities and green spaces on foot or bicycle. For children there is opportunity to play and for adults opportunity to socialise and gain new cultural experiences.
It is important to protect the existing public realm and when we create new public spaces they are interconnected and encourage socialisation and diversity. Facilitating the ability of different sectors of the community to mix and engage with each other. In more normal times, Faversham hosts a range of events and festivals that use these public spaces to bring people together for celebration and remembrance. As we develop as a town it is important that the new members of our community feel as connected to the public realm and the manner with which it is used as current residents do.
It is clear that Faversham, as it evolves, will need infrastructure improvements. There will need to be enough school places and GP appointments to service the new residents. There are also roads that are already air quality management areas that as a community, we will need to safeguard from additional strain and pollution. There will also be increased demand for leisure and recreational facilities. We must respond to this demand so that everyone that lives in our town has the opportunity to live a healthy and active lifestyle unconstrained by financial barriers and lack of accessibility.
COVID-19 has been dark and scary for many people. It has shone a light on inequalities within all of our communities. It has also shown how adaptable and innovative we can be. Local shops and restaurants supported the vulnerable and hundreds of volunteers gave up significant amounts of time to support their family, friends, neighbours and people that they had never met. There are lessons to be learned around how as a community we move forward with stronger community ties and a heightened sense of what it is like when isolation is part of your everyday life. Speaking to people at the Neighbourhood plan exhibition, many are also increasingly aware of the beautiful and historic landscapes that surround the town and appreciative of their own outside spaces.
The “liveability” of Faversham is something that we can influence as a community. Faversham will see significant new development, central government housing targets are not going away. The Neighbourhood Plan aims to produce a policy document and guide that influences where the housing goes, how its connected to the existing town, how it encourages healthy and inclusive community building and how we can champion the need for accessible outdoor spaces and recreational activity. It also aims to value the important heritage of our medieval Market Town whilst encouraging the growth of our local economy. In short, to influence the future of our town together.
Our Health and Social Care
Words by Hannah Perkin and Laurie McMahon
Health and Wellbeing is a thread that runs through all of the aspects of the Neighbourhood Plan. Whether talking about planning and infrastructure, the provision of school places, recreational opportunity or economic regeneration. There has arguably never been a time when a holistic approach to the health and wellbeing of our communities has been more important – especially now that COVID-19 has shone a bright light on inequalities.
Establishing how the health and care needs of Faversham’s changing population should best be met in the future is the responsibility of planners at NHS Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group working in partnership with Faversham’s Primary Care Network (PCN) – comprising Newton Place and Faversham Medical Centre practices. There are 1.8 million people living in Kent and Medway and the new Clinical Commissioning Group has an annual budget of £2.738 billion in 2020/21 to provide the best possible care for the whole county, so it is vital that our local practices ensure a local focus.
Planning how best to service the health needs of any community is not an easy task. In addition to shifts in demographics, patterns of morbidity (the rates of disease within a population) are changing fast and even before the outbreak of COVID we were at the beginning of ever-increasing change in the nature of care, the technology and workforce used to provide it and where it is provided. COVID-19 has increased the pressure to adapt to change exponentially the ways in which the population access healthcare will not return to what we were used to for some time, if ever.
Developments in clinical technology mean that acute services traditionally provided in hospitals (such as urgent care, diagnostics and outpatients) will continue to shift to more local settings.
Patients’ consultations with primary and community care professionals formally undertaken ‘face-to-face’ will increasingly be conducted from homes via phone and the internet. Especially as we walk the line of controlling infection levels of the virus.
The shift to web-based consultation will be intensified as irreversible clinical workforce shortages become more apparent.
Health and care providers are having to learn to operate as integrated supply chains and so old divisions between acute, community, mental health, primary and voluntary sector care should/will decline and allow rapid innovation in delivery models.
In addition, radical (and long overdue) changes in the nature and scale of social care provision are becoming inevitable because of funding, workforce and quality issues at a time of rising need.
It is important therefore that the Neighbourhood Plan should acknowledge that simply building new GP surgeries alongside new housing development is not the beginning and end of the issue. The physical buildings will clearly be important but without the workforce to drive them and understanding of the changing care needs of Faversham, and what is needed to respond to them, buildings themselves are useless. Planning facilities to support health and care services to the new communities can only be successful if undertaken by close and constructive work with the relevant clinical and public health experts at both the Faversham Primary Care Network and the Clinical Commissioning Group planners.
Building A Healthy Community
Building the right houses in the right places is an absolute priority and the availability and standard of housing is a major determinant of the health status (and therefore of the health and care needs) of a population. The nature of new housing offered in Faversham will influence the demographics of the incoming population and this will have a direct effect on health and care needs. The need for good quality, truly affordable social housing, demonstrated by the CLT, and sustainable employment opportunities are crucial. Poverty has clearly detrimental impacts on health. Safeguarding all residents from being pushed into poverty or unsuitable housing is paramount.
The trend for more acute hospital care in community settings might well require purpose-built facilities, probably in centre of the town to provide equal access to each part of the wider community with as little reliance on vehicular travel as possible. Although technology will allow more home-based consultations there will need to be a rapid expansion of integrated primary and community care facilities. Infrastructure projects already planned for primary care will not meet the needs of an enlarged population. There will also be a need for residential and nursing home facilities to be built into development plans.
The more a community is able to access sports, leisure and recreation facilities the stronger will be their physical and mental health and the lower their demand on health and care services. Sport England recently commissioned a report that found that, when measured against costs of engagement and providing opportunities, for every £1 spent on community sport and physical activity, a return on investment (ROI) of £3.91 was created for individuals and society
Access to quality education is seen to have influence on the long term health status of a population and on the pattern of disease. Sufficient school places are necessary as Faversham grows and the connectivity to the rest of the town is important to avoid adding to the issues of air pollution and to ensure that children are able to walk safely to school. This means an investment in active travel routes and road safety measure which will again impact on future health outcomes.
Creating a community that is empowered to make positive choices about their lives is critical to creating positive health outcomes and a greater sense of wellbeing. The Neighbourhood Plan – having involved so many local people in its preparation, must become a strong influence on the way policy makers and planners guide the development of our town.
Shaping Our Future
Words by Geoff Wade
Given the growing pressure from national government for more housing resulting in the allocation of increasing target numbers the Town Council considers that the Neighbourhood Planning process truly represents Faversham’s best interests.
Using the legacy of Faversham’s past to attract investment in its future. Working with local schools, providers of leisure, culture, sport and recreation facilities to maximise community use to ensure those of all ages have access to facilities working collaboratively, supporting community health and wellbeing. Championing local priorities with innovation, acting directly or facilitating action to ensure the vision and needs of the community are met as far as possible.
The Town Council is aiming to ensure that the services provided are affordable, deliverable and prioritised in accordance with views expressed by local residents and local businesses through local community exhibitions, forums; also taking into account the views of neighbouring parishes through the Faversham and District Engagement Forum enabling Faversham to reinforce its role as a market town supporting and acting as a service centre for surrounding villages.