By Sevenoaks Chronicle 


“Sevenoaks is on the cusp of making a decision it will regret for years to come, according to a leading architect who this week unveiled his vision for the town.
Roger FitzGerald, chairman of ADP, one of the top architectural practices in the UK with seven studios and more than 100 staff, believes the district council’s current quick fix plan to ease parking issues in the town centre by putting extra floors on the Buckhurst car parks must be stopped. And his vision was this week backed by the Sevenoaks Society which is urging councillors to block the proposal at a full council meeting on April 1.

Mr FitzGerald, whose work has won many national and international awards, told the Chronicle: “If we take it as read that Sevenoaks needs more car parks, these should be attractive and well-designed, and part of a bigger, long-term plan.

“That’s what Sevenoaks lacks, and it therefore suffers from short-term decision making. The council is on the brink of rushing to build some unsightly, cheap car decks by Christmas which we will regret for many years to come, instead of being strategic and visionary”.
“The politicians haven’t been interested in this argument so far, so I’ve prepared a quick sketch to provoke debate, and to show how public spaces, pedestrian and cycle routes, landscape, new buildings and car parking should all be thought about together in an integrated vision.”

Peter Moss, who represents the Sevenoaks Society’s Townscape and Planning Group, said Mr FitzGerald’s Vision came as a breath of fresh air.

“It is a valuable contribution to the vexed debate on the towns’s future car parking requirements,” he said.
“He shows us that clearly we still have an opportunity to take a longer view of Sevenoaks if we open our minds and approach the problem with greater imagination.
“He also reminds us of what we value and how this should be enhanced for future generations.
“We urge the district council and all concerned to act responsibly, take heed, pause for thought and confront this real problem with the sort of creativity demonstrated by Mr FitzGerald.
“We do not need to blight our town with ugly, short-term and expedient solutions.”

Mr FitzGerald has lived in Sevenoaks for 20 years. Recent projects include major regeneration schemes such as The Forum: a public library and urban square in Southend; a £500 million masterplan for University of Sussex; and the conversion of the historic Oxford Castle. He is currently designing a new community centre in Cambridge”.