News from British and Canadian Conservatives

Friday, July 22, 2005

Roger's Masterplan

Tonight Folkestone Town Councillors were offered the opportunity to see the current state of the Masterplan for Folkestone Seafront being drawn up by Foster Partners on behalf of Roger De Haan, the owner of Folkestone Harbour.

The general aim of creating a more joined up town is most welcome. The ambitious scheme would see the removal of the disused harbour branch line, allowing the widening of Tram Road to allow two-way tarffic, and general improvements to the awful one-way system in the east of the town. Wider pavements and the planting of an avenue of trees would also improve the general appearance of the area.

The creation of a permanently water-filled marina, with development along the western rim of the inner harbour would help to link the sea front to the town centre, helping to return Tontine Street to being a bustling, vibrant street instead of the run-down ghost town which currently exists. The plans also allow for a university, the restoration of a ferry link to Boulogne courtesy of Speed Ferries, and the extension of the coastal park in front of a lower-rise residential development than that offered by other proposed schemes.

What the plans do seem to lack is leisure facilities. It should be remembered that the site has always had leisure use, and purely residential development would be to the detriment of the town. The loss of the funfair (a sign of changing times), night club and amusement arcades would leave even less for the young people of Folkestone to do - at the same time as 1000 university students arrive in town.

The argument that the laws of supply and demand will deal with this simply doesn't wash - if there's no land to build on, the facilities won't be built, regardless of demand. And suggestions that nightclubs and cinemas be built at the edge of town, surrounded by Folkestone's leafy suburbs, is quite outrageous. The police have previously objected to out of town nightclubs, due to problems in policing the routes taken by late night revellers en route from town centre pubs, and Ashford's out of town M20 nightclub has just gone broke! Meanwhile, Folkestone's late night bus has been withdrawn, due to safety concerns.

No comments: