In response to the Faversham’s Shoddy Houses: Why are they being built so badly? article in Issue 9:
Dear Faversham Eye
When all the new builds started going up in Faversham I contacted Helen Whately, MP for Faversham. I asked her - why, if the future is green energy, are the new builds bereft of solar panels or solar tiles? Her reply was all the developers had to do was to conform to the government’s building regulations, although some do and are using better insulation methods. Why is there no law, regulation, call it what you will, that new builds must have solar panels or tiles as a standard? I would have at least expected in Helen's answer that she would ask the question to the Housing/Environment Ministers.
Dear Faversham Eye team,
I have been reading the article about "Faversham's Shoddy Houses" in your April issue with great interest. As this seems a topic which is going to also feature in future issues, I was wondering if I might make a suggestion?
I think it might be useful for the reader to have something positive and sustainable to compare these new housing developments to, which have been rightly branded as "shoddy". I have the "Passive House" in mind which is a building standard which is truly energy efficient and has been around for a while. There are certain criteria which are being met such as airtightness, ventilation, insulation, etc. I think it would be interesting for readers to understand more about these and start making demands that this is the way forward.
In my opinion, housing is one of the major factors which are putting a great strain on our environment and it is absolutely inexcusable to ignore existing knowledge about environmentally friendly new housing at a time when our planet is just about to tip into irreversible meltdown mode.
Personally, I think it can do no harm to point out, even more clearly, the absolutely shocking greed of short-term profit thinking displayed by building companies and the complacency of the council, or whoever approves the building plans. It really leaves me speechless that new builds are not fitted with electric car charging points in the garages and compulsory solar panels on the roofs. (By the way, if in addition to all new builds all public buildings were retrospectively fitted with solar panels, we wouldn't be having to carve up our country side with solar panel farms like the proposed Cleve Hill site.)
This brings me to the mini sizes of these houses which you also rightly point out. As our population is spreading all the time, I think it might be prudent to consider alternative options to these shoddy, over priced mini-rabbit hutches without greenery. My idea here is to look towards Europe - and I guess I don't need to make the point that really important issues like the control of a pandemic as well as efficient climate control measures can only be addressed across borders and that we can all learn from each other.
All European cities have good examples of multi storey living which is pleasant. I would rather live in a spacious flat with a good view and a lovely balcony than in any of the tiny, soulless boxes you describe which were built in New Creek Road. The good thing about multi storey living is also that communal living can be practised with shared washer/dryers in the basement, a rota to look after communal green spaces - more sharing all together which is not only very environmentally friendly because we would share more resources and amenities but also fosters a sense of community. Where I am, we all own a lawn mower for a postage-stamp-size back garden - ridiculous!
Some of the ground floor space of such complexes can easily be occupied by shops, doctor's surgeries, etc. I think it might be worth informing readers of such visions and that they are workable, sustainable, aesthetically pleasing, etc. All age groups can live in such a complex and help each other, rather than this shut-off model we have at the moment. Communal living spaces could be great for mental health because it would allow those who live alone to informally meet neighbours for a chat and maybe offer help to frazzled young families. Even carpools are possible. I really think it might be time to paint a more sustainable, detailed picture as a desirable alternative to what is actually going on in terms of housing.
Thank you for your time.
Dear Faversham Eye,
Before Priory Row had a car park at the end, we were informed that Andersons, the company that developed the Faversham Lakes new build, would provide a car park for the school and trees would abound.
So they removed our row of beautiful poplars, which kept the wind from blasting along the Row in the winter. Nobody was informed that this would happen, but the promise then was that the car park would have trees around, as would the park beyond and order would be restored. It was done in the nesting season and was little short of barbarism.
So we now have a car park at the end of our row that is not used. Our countryside is now concreted and ugly. The builders and the council have apparently signed an agreement to the effect that the car park would be the responsibility of the council, as it was for the use of Davington School.
Today, the car park is blocked and closed because the council has refused to pay for its upkeep. The parents cannot use it to drop off their children, and chaos reigns on Priory Row, when the school is open, in the morning and at three thirty in the afternoon. The council has, allegedly, signed to agree to do this. I believe it to be KCC, but am not certain.
This is a disgusting way for a council to behave.
Your comments are awaited, best wishes,
PS When can we have our row of poplars back?
Dear Faversham Eye,
I am a qualified nurse and like Helen Whately, live in a small village outside Faversham. I feel extremely lucky to own my home, as on my salary alone, I could never possibly afford to buy a house here.
I have always worked hard and even more so over the past stressful four months. Nurses have appreciated the moral support we have received from the public including the regular Thursday “Clap for our Carers”.
However, it makes me furious that our local MP, the Care Minister, should stand outside her rather grand house and join in the clapping when in the House of Commons she has repeatedly voted to freeze nurses wages, whilst accepting generous pay increases herself.
Locked down here watching endless successions of Antique Road Shows, Flog It!, Salvage Hunters a thought occurred to me during the commercial break. The majority of our MPs seem to have perfected the skill of social distancing long before the advent of the present Covid crisis. By wealth and a plethora of privileges they have socially distanced themselves from most of us for decades.
Yours most sincerely
Olive (still on the) Twigg, The Sierras Covid Care Home, Faversham
I was disappointed by the tone of your article on tree planting which clearly accepts the very simplistic current perception of tree planting as a panacea for climate change. I was particularly disappointed by the implicit acceptance of “longer grass cover in some areas” as being in any way related to effective rewilding.
Perhaps there is an opportunity for a positive approach to the authorities with an alternative proposal for the land earmarked for the solar processing facility (stop agreeing it’s a farm - that word makes it sound far too green). One criticism of the objectors is that the land has already been degraded in terms of its wildlife value by having been drained and used for mono cultural farming for years. However, it has immense value to Faversham not only as a potentially rich wildlife habitat if restored to true saltmarsh and intertidal habitat. It also would be a significant carbon sequestration site. There is much recent research into the previously undervalued coastal regions both under the sea and on coastal land. It seems likely that these wetter areas, in common with the better researched upland peat bogs, are the most effective at taking and storing carbon from the air.
Take a look at the Rewilding Britain's report How restoring nature can help decarbonise the UK which suggests subsidies post-Brexit to encourage land - particularly “marginal land” - to be returned to saltmarsh and other carbon sequestration types of ecologically rich wilderness. (P12 if you can't be arsed to read it all...) For Faversham, this would be a valuable return to a more natural and resilient flood defence particularly if dredging around the estuary could be restricted to avoid destruction of below water vegetation which again is a much neglected carbon sequestration resource as well as an ecologically rich flood and coastal erosion defence.
Tree planting is all very well, but it is a very, very small part of a huge overall picture and we need to stop feeling so smug when we plant a tree. Stepping back and allowing one to grow where it wishes is harder to do, but we are very bad at just allowing nature to restore herself. Planting trees also involves taking the decision about what to plant rather than leaving it to nature. It also involves disturbing soil and releasing the carbon stored there into the atmosphere. It involves weeding around the tree to remove plants nature may decide to grow there. It often involves plastic tree guards which inevitably release microplastics and chemicals into the soil, at worst it involves use of herbicides to keep competing “weeds” away. The most convincing argument for tree planting is that it is sometimes appropriate in urban areas and it helps involve children and others who otherwise would not get close to a plant. It is not by any means anything to prompt two pages of unquestioning self-congratulation in your paper. - I'll read the rest of it now...
Stay safe alert,
Sometime in May I picked up a copy of the Eye in Morrisons. As an occasional visitor to the town I thought I'd catch some local news and gossip. As is so often the case with me, I didn't actually get round to reading it in earnest until a couple of weeks later. It was the April ed'. What a delight! I was much impressed by the directness of reporting, giving no let up on politicians central and local and their deeds.
I was particularly delighted by seeing the 'P'-word used in relation to Jeremy Hunt (lower case will suffice) because for so many years. 95% of the time, only 'funding cuts' is mentioned in relation to the NHS, even by many political campaigners who should know better. So nice one Eye! Of course how many readers will have even noticed that remains unknown to me.
I also enjoyed the way that the paper devoted a two page section on photographer Peter Smith and the size that his works were printed, whereas many papers would have used thumbnail images. Ditto the Cleve Hill update and also the life story of Jacqueline Hitchcock, who I'd never heard of. I loved the way you ran a piece of modern building 'quality' too - very important. However the piece de resistance for me was your central theme on the diary of C-19.
Very well done. I'll look out for the Eye next time I'm in the town.
Comments on Faversham Farms Appeal for Local Workers article IN EYE 9: