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Have your say: The future of Kent
By Mark Norman
BBC South East

Sir Terry Farrell explains why your views are so important to him

Sir Terry Farrell, one of the world's leading architects, has co-authored a report detailing a vision for Kent in the 21st century.

It is entitled 21st Century Kent - A blueprint for the county's future.

Farrell says he wants to build on the county's identity and its importance as a place.

Over the last 30 years Kent has seen major change. This report aims to describe a Kent that can be handed to future generations with pride.

high speed connections map
High speed connections between Kent, London and Europe as well as across the county.

"Take many small steps and hold true to the vision." These are the words of Sir Terry Farrell who lives near Ashford. Working with Kent County Council (KCC), Sir Terry has produced a document that highlights the county's potential for economic growth centred on the high speed rail line.

Ebbsfleet, he writes, offers the chance to live in a rural setting while benefiting from rapid access to London. By 2030 he believes that Medway's five towns will become a new city and he argues that High Speed One reinforces Ashford's status as the powerhouse of Kent.

aspirations for Kent in 2030
A map of infrastructure aspirations for 2030 for Kent.

In the report, Sir Terry and the leader of KCC Paul Carter also focus on the ability of our coastal towns to regenerate - a process they believe has already begun.

But having the vision and getting us all to buy into that vision are two different things. As our clip shows, Sir Terry is keen to hear from anyone who wants to comment on the 21st Century vision for Kent. After all, we are the ones who will have to live with the consequences!


What are you hopes for the county's future? Let us know your ideas.

I do hope that all the proponents of this scheme are prepared to have their environment completely changed? I expect it will go through regardless. As a former resident and native of London, I chose to leave there because of increase in population and the associated degradation of my lifestyle. Fair enough. My only comment is, that for the sake of a few minutes saved in travel, you are going to lose more precious arable land and your existing quality of life.
Jamie, Nelson B.C.

Kipling saw that transport is civilisation, and it is transport that is addressed by the proposals. Some will be achieved, and they will bring general good, despite the sound of hobby-horses being mounted. The new Southeastern HighSpeed service has transformed rail access to London, and also offers big time savings for journeys to places via Stratford, King's Cross, St Pancras and Euston. Improving the line between Ashford and Thanet could easily cut another 10 minutes off the journey time. The statement from Gatwick Airport that there will be no application for a second runway makes the Manston proposals even more important. A healthy regional airport will bring huge economic and social benefits to East Kent. The gloomy message from the anti-airport brigade does not reflect reality. The (optimistic in my view) master plan figures for 2018 would lead (based on 189 seat jets operating at 80% capacity, with a 16 hour opening) to a plane landing every 48 minutes. Since some planes will be larger, and smaller planes will tend to be more fuel-efficient turbo-props and much quieter, we might see a jet land every 90 minutes and a turbo-prop at a similar frequency; a passenger plane every 45 mins. With freight, and assuming only 30% of departing capacity is used, there would need to be only 3 747s a day visiting: one every 6 hours. Remember how Lille fought for the high speed line to go through it; the city has been transformed. Ashford will be similar, but on a smaller scale. East Kent is on the way to being part of the golden triangle, not just somewhere to go through.
Jeremy, Broadstairs

Speeding up the railway line to Thanet is a brilliant idea. The benefits to Ramsgate of having a faster rail connection combined with an airport we can actually use will be transformational. It's about time someone put some work into making the most of the fine assets we have here.
Martin, Ramsgate

I won't be in Kent in 20 years time! I was born in Kent 57 years ago, and the place is no longer the green an pleasant county I remember. Another crossing means more houses, more industrial estates, more roads, we are now doing the "By-pass the By-pass" so the regeneration isn't working, take a look at Chatham!
Neville Legg, Minster Sheppey England

I hope that the remaining Kent countryside can be preserved and in some cases reclaimed from the blight, pollution and thoughtless development that has seen Kent transformed into the patio of England. No new roads, better public transport and localised services to help engender a greater sense of community in the county's young people are key in my opinion.
Justin Hill, Whitstable, Kent

What would I like for Kent county in the 21st century, to take a step back, a long deep breath and ask ourselves do we really need anymore development, tower blocks and motorways. We are rapidly becoming, if we have not already become, one large concrete slab!
Susan Killick, Tonbridge

The high speed trains run virtually empty for most of the day, because most people don't want to travel to or from St. Pancras. It also takes 15 minutes to get to the Underground platforms from the SouthEastern platforms at St. Pancras, compared to less than five minutes at Charing Cross. And most people who use the daytime trains are usually travelling to the West End, anyway, and not the City. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see service reductions outside peak periods in the next timetable change. Any "vision" of the future which relies on the High Speed service being a success might well prove to be deeply flawed.
Ray Holyer, New Romney, UK

Let's worry about being able to easily get from one part of the county to the other via public transport, before we worry about getting from Europe to London! Have you ever tried getting from Gillingham to Maidstone at the weekend? And how about letting us have a night out in London and being able to get home without a mad dash to get the last train at midnight? I moved to Kent 25 years ago and wouldn't move back to London for all the tea in China...but I STILL miss the transport system!
Terry Wildman, Kemsley, Sittingbourne

I am unclear on what the purpose is of another bridge across the Thames other than another money making tool that will be another element the government can sell as with the QE2 / Dartford crossing. I see no gain other than creating another bottle neck as all the vehicles that use this proposed crossing connect on to the Dartford bridge. If we are so keen to work with the environment why not create rail links and get the haulage of the roads. As one of the previous entries states why not a tunnel at least noise would be reduced. Why should be subjected to more pollution for the benefits of increasing property prices in rural Kent and the alledged power house of Ashford.
Robin Caig, Gravesend

We need: 1. Through fast Ashford to Gatwick trains serving Paddock Wood, Tonbridge and Redhill (good rail connections for West Kent). 2. Restore and improve Eurostar services at Ashford (good rail connections for Kent and East Sussex).
John Reynolds, Tonbridge, UK

I'm all for another crossing. One has always been planned around the end of the A130 at Canvey Island for many years now. Lets hope it does not have a toll like the Dartford crossings as the Bridge & tunnels were supposed to be free once they were paid for. So any money paid now is just another rip off for the law abiding motorists.
Andrew Smith, Chelmsford, England

Another bridge between Kent and Essex, and a high speed link to London seem more like ways to avoid the county rather than regenerate the years of neglect, why not spend the 1bn on creating proper long term jobs in the county
Stuart Willmott, Margate Kent

Surely such a Thames crossing would have to be a tunnel complex, not a bridge? I think the London commuters would be grateful for any reduction in the traffic jams at Blackwall though, with extra ways of getting across the river. But more than this, we need businesses located closer to the workers - or affordable housing closer to the City and Wharf - to reduce all the travelling time and fuel wasted getting to and fro.
Christina Luckings, Medway

Expansion of Dover Port is all well and good, but the local councils inability to accept change will undoubtedly mean delays (we have been waiting for the town regeneration for nearly ten years!) and compound existing problems whereby the town is mostly closed as more and more businesses leave - Which will result in more and more travellers simply bypassing Dover and the surrounding areas.
Cliff, Dover

It's clear where this is all heading. Yes, we do need to consider another crossing but I can't help feeling the estuary airport is on the horizon.
Ian Barratt, Rochester

My suggestion would be not for the major developments that only benefit the developer but small compact business areas, nearby where people live so that there is not the massive movement of people, causing traffic jams every day in the county.
Elizabeth Rayner, Faversham

It would be difficult to site a Lower Thames Crossing downstream of Gravesend without substantial direct land take from the Thames Estuary and Marshes Special Protection Area (SPA) causing damage to our important internationally protected bird sites We must protect our natural heritage in Kent
Gill Moore, Rochester

What about encouraging visitors back to our seaside towns and regenerating our high streets? Not everyone wants to shop in huge shopping malls like Bluewater or Westwood Cross. Can we have a new Green Belt to prevent more destruction of our farmland?
Someone who cares about Ramsgate , Ramsgate

I read with surprise the proposal to build another Thames crossing, at a cost of about £1bn, which could raise toll revenues of some £30m per year. The tolls would need to be far higher, raising perhaps £100m - £150m per annum, to write down the costs and make a new crossing financially feasible.
Hedley Russell, Hythe

I'm all for progress and a joined up blueprint for future development. I would support any improvements in Public Transport infrastructure, but would question a new Thames Crossing and the expansion of the Port of Dover. Should we not be trying to remove freight from the roads and switch these to rails? There is certainly capacity, especially at night to do this. In Sittingbourne we appear to be going backwards, there is a new development framework that focus on moving the High Street to suit the needs of a corporate giant and not the town. Bigger is not always best. Enhance the character of Kent not destroy it.
John Brownings, Sittingbourne

As an inhabitant-to-be all I can say is that the definitely needed restructuring of Kent needs more than an architect's vision. Good to know that people are asked for their opinions, however, how deeply will they be involved in the end? Kent's infrastructure is insufficient, that's correct. Especially the outskirts are left aside. Getting from London to East or South Kent is an odysse. Dover as the connection to the rest of Europe is not feasible the way it is now.
Heike, Mainz, Germany

A new toll bridge for Essex & Kent is planned. I wonder if it'll be another rip-off like the QEII which by now is supposed to be toll free?
Fil Brown, Essex

I see Terry Farrell mentions Whitstable, Margate, Folkestone and Dover under the "Kent Coast is coming back to life" page. I see the picture is of Ramsgate Harbour, arguably Kent's prettiest seaside town and location of the only Royal Harbour in the country. Perhaps he fails to mention it in 2030 because if his or Paul Carter's vision of a "major regional airport" at Manston. Landing planes fly at under 1,000 feet over the very harbour pictured, which will kill Ramsgate as a town, harbour and place to live.
Steve Higgins, Ramsgate

It all appears to be designed to get people through and out of Kent as fast as possible, so I'm not sure what it does for the local economies - but if it means we can be left in peace to enjoy our beautiful county without hordes of tourists, then I'm all for it!
Trevor Brittain, Tonbridge

I just hope the little villages on the North Kent coast stay as lovely as they are! And keep local communities going. We don't all need to live in urban concrete jungles with no heart in the community. And what's the use of a "high speed" train service when it doesn't even terminate in an area of London which I work in? How about reducing the train fares, too? I think £3,776 for an annual season ticket (less the "High Speed" service option) is a rip off!
Kate Williams, Iwade, Sittingbourne

Where does the idea that Ebbsfleet is in a rural setting come from. Ebbsfleet as a village/town doesn't exist. It's a railway station situated on the edge of Northfleet surrounded by shrubland which is not at all pleasing to the eye. All we have here are huge blocks of flats (tomorrow's slums) and a riverside being slowly eroded by ridiculous developments which the residents of Gravesend and Northfleet don't want. I think we'd better leave right now .... as the song says. Parts of Kent are no longer the garden of England but huge concrete blots on the landscape. Now the proposed horse ........ that's another ridiculous plan which nobody wants!
Teresa Jenns, Gravesend

All very fine, a little pie in the sky with nice glossy pictures, but where does Swale and the surrounding North Kent coast fit into the great scheme of things? It sits on the edge of various proposals and as such misses out on all. There appears little, if anything, for the rural communities, In a number of cases these communities are struggling to survive having slowly been stripped of their life giving businesses and services. We all don't wish to sit on a High Speed train or live in a tower block.
Brian Sharman, Teynham, Sittingbourne

The Defend Our Coast Association (DOC) was set up by local people living on the Romney Marsh as a direct result of their dissatisfaction with the lack of local involvement and consultation by various Government bodies during the preparation of Shoreline Management Plans. This had identified the need for a non-political association to campaign on behalf of local people on the Marsh, the borders of which extend across East Sussex and Kent. At present various Government Agencies seem to be determined to systematically 'starve' the Marsh by blocking any applications or prospects which would allow for this much needed regeneration to proceed. By continually applying 'cost-benefit' ratios to less densely populated areas Government Agencies are slowly strangling any prospects of regeneration in rural communities. So far the "Vision for the 21st Century" certainly does not seem to include the Romney Marsh area!
Brigitte Bass, Lydd

I hope Ashford can be more than a characterless commuter town.
Ian Sleeper, Ashford


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