Category Archives: Faversham Creek Consortium

English Heritage’s Modifications to Creek Plan

FAVERSHAM TOWN COUNCIL TO DISCUSS
REVISED NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN
TUESDAY 7 APRIL 2015 AT 7 PM IN THE GUILDHALL

The Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan has been revised by Swale Borough Council, to take into account concerns raised by English Heritage. Although these are being reported as ‘minor’ modifications, the revisions are contained in a 12 page document, and they affect 33 pages of the Plan. They can be read here http://tinyurl.com/pnml6xl , and they make very interesting reading. Some of the main points are summarised at the end of this email.

The agenda for Faversham Town Council’s meeting on Tuesday, 7 April (7 pm in the Guildhall) – you can find it here http://tinyurl.com/nehuwt5 – includes item number 9, “To receive and approve the recommendations of the Town Clerk’s Report (copy enclosed).

Item Number 8 of the Town Clerk’s Report (page 11 of the above document) reads as follows:

“FAVERSHAM CREEK NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN: ENGLISH HERITAGE

Following discussions with English Heritage, the attached paper indicates minor amendments that can be accepted to the draft Neighbourhood Plan. The purpose of the attached is to reassure the Independent Examiner that English Heritage’s views, although submitted after the general consultation closed, have been considered and, where appropriate, taken into account. The Town Council, Swale Borough Council and the independent planning consultant, Richard Eastham have been in discussion with English Heritage and believe that the Plan, with those amendments, meets the basic conditions as required by independent examination as well as meeting English Heritage’s concerns. Are Members content for this to be presented as the Town Council’s final amendments to the Plan following the consultation as led by Swale Borough Council?”

We think it is very important for the people of Faversham to be involved in such  crucial decisions. If you are interested to hear what the Council are discussing, please come to this meeting on Tuesday evening. It is your last opportunity to question your Councillors before the Neighbourhood Plan goes to the Independent Examiner. Please arrive early – the doors may be closed to late comers.

WHY ARE WE NOT BEING TOLD?

Many people would expect something as important to the residents of Faversham as the Neighbourhood Plan to be shown as a specific item on the agenda for a meeting, and to have a proper discussion held about the amendments. Many would agree that the proposed amendments are not minor.

English Heritage has no record of having been consulted at the proper time (Regulation 14 stage, which took place in May and June 2014), which is why they submitted their document during the Regulation 16 stage (November and December 2014). The introduction to the document, or ‘Statement of Common Ground and Schedule of Minor Modifications 28.03.15’ recognises this fact (paragraphs 3 and 4).

WHAT DOES THE DOCUMENT SAY?

Evidence Base

On page 3 of this document, in the first major paragraph, it is stated that:

‘All sites allocated for development have been assessed initially through the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment 2011 conducted by Swale Borough Council, and in the Strategic Environmental Assessment (date) prepared for the plan by Swale Borough Council.’

FCT responded to the SHLAA 2011-12, requesting that all sites within the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan area should be excluded from the SHLAA pending the Plan. The response that was given to every site was:

“The purpose of the SHLAA is to assess potential housing sites. It forms part of the evidence base which will be taken into account when preparing the Neighbourhood Plan (which will balance all interests and cumulative impacts)”

In the SHLAA 2012-13, in the site specific sections, the Neighbourhood Plan is referred to as ‘advocating employment-led regeneration.’

It is questionable whether the Neighbourhood Plan did balance all interests and cumulative impacts. It is questionable whether the Neighbourhood Plan does ‘advocate employment-led regeneration’.

A search of Swale’s website for the Strategic Environmental Assessment yields nothing. The fact that no date is given for it in this ‘Schedule of Minor Modifications’ may be indicative of its existence.

Members of the Steering Group and other interested parties have repeatedly requested this document, which should have been prepared at an early stage of the planning process, but it had not been written. They still have not received a copy. It could not have been used to assess the sites allocated for development, as at that time it did not exist, and at this time it is not in the public domain. This document should, legally, have been written at a much earlier stage, and should have been available to the Steering Group and the public before the Plan was written.

Summary of Changes

The amendments do make a very considerable difference to the Plan, especially to Ordnance Wharf and Swan Quay, and to matters concerning the conservation area, the archaeology and historical aspects of the sites, the views and design standards. Specific sites which are affected directly (although all are covered by the ‘Background Text and Scene Setting’ and the ‘Creek-Wide Policies’) are Site 2 Ordnance Wharf, Site 3 BMM Weston, Sites 4 and 5 Swan Quay / Frank and Whittome, Site 8 Standard Quay and Site 9 Standard House.

Notes on Policy Changes

The policies for Ordnance Wharf would make it considerably more difficult to build residential units on it, but still would not preclude them.

The policies for Swan Quay would make it more difficult for the proposed large blocks of flats to be built by the Quayside, but would allow some housing. They offer much more protection to the existing industrial buildings, the industrial nature of the site, and to the environment of the historic and listed buildings on and close to the site, but it may not be enough.

The policies for Standard Quay remove the use of Building No. 1 as a restaurant.

The policies for Standard House offer greater protection to its setting as a significant landmark on the Creek.

In summary, then, these changes do offer some, but not all, of what Faversham Creek Trust and others have been asking for all these years. However, they should be properly debated by a full Council Meeting in public, as a specific agenda item – they are too important to be subsumed into a vote on the Town Clerk’s words:

“Are Members content for this to be presented as the Town Council’s final amendments to the Plan following the consultation as led by Swale Borough Council?”

If you wish to show your interest and concern about these items, please come to this meeting next Tuesday, 7 April, at 7 pm in the Guildhall, if you possibly can.

 

The Faversham Creek Swing Bridge Fund

A new fund has been launched by Kent County Council to support plans to replace Faversham Creek Bridge.

KCC has already set aside £400,000 for work to start replacing the fixed bridge in 2016/17. However, the bridge was originally designed as a swing bridge that opened to allow access for boats. KCC would like to raise the extra £500,000 to help meet the aspiration of bringing it back to its former glory rather than remaining a fixed bridge.

Mark Dance, KCC Cabinet Member for Economic Development says; We already have the money set aside to replace the bridge. The bridge hasn’t been able to be opened for at least 25 years and we think we should be more ambitious and return it to a fully-fledged swing bridge. This means not only will it allow access to larger boats; it will lead to further benefits for the Inner Basin of the Creek.

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If the additional money is not raised, work will continue to replace it, except it will remain a static bridge. So we hope that local people and businesses will support the Fund via the website

http://www.kent.gov.uk/favershamcreek

and help us to raise the additional £500,000 required.

Our Chairman, Chris Wright, says ‘ the Trust has been pleased to be part of the steering group for the last year or two, which has worked hard to realise the aspirations of the town in having an opening bridge, so that barges and other craft can once more enter the basin and revitalise the whole area, providing a marine hub for traditional sailing vessels and shipwright training in the Purifier Building. The Trust welcomes the launch of the bridge fund and looks forward to helping raise the necessary amount of money needed’

Basin drawings 1 Ben White Nov13

Brenda Chester, who co-ordinates the bridge steering group added ‘ I look forward also to seeing the Basin opened and local people and groups such as the Sea Cadets being able to use it for recreational purposes; also the increased tourism potential for our historic Cinque Port town is exciting. An opening bridge and dredged Creek and Basin will enable the annual Nautical Festival and other events to expand and be even more successful which will be good for residents and businesses.’

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A Faversham Town Council spokesperson said ‘ A swing bridge would be an important contribution to the regeneration of the Creek. The Fund, which would raise money in addition to that guaranteed by KCC would enable all interested parties in the private and public sector to demonstrate their commitment to such a worthwhile cause,

Councillor Mike Cosgrove, Swale Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said ‘this is great news, after chairing the Faversham Creek Consortium for 8 years, our dream of getting the funding to deliver this iconic project is almost there. Swale, I am sure, will also make a contribution and stand shoulder to shoulder with KCC and the Town Council’.

So there we are, and now it is up to all of us, individually and corporately, private and public sector, to put our hands in our pockets and offer a contribution, however small, towards something that would not just be the visible restoration of a major historic part of the Town, but also play a part in the future prosperity of the town. 

TO DONATE     GOT TO

http://www.kent.gov.uk/favershamcreek

Timothy Stevens’ view of the Neighbourhood Plan so far

This view of the Neighbourhood Plan so far, was copied to FCT by the author,  Timothy Stevens OBE, and we have decided to publish it as it fits our policy of publishing  serious views, especially from people who are independent of the Trust. It was addressed to the Clerk to the Faversham Town Council, and we have removed some initial personal greetings.

My letter falls into two parts.  In the first are my reactions to the proposals overall and in the second some views on specific proposals made on  a few of the individual boards.

Reactions to the proposals overall

It is worth remembering that planning is a mechanism for providing a community with a good environment in which to live.  It is against that yardstick that I have attempted to measure these proposals.

By this measure these plans lack vision and are simply not fit for purpose because they do not meet the needs of Faversham in the 21st century.

From the display, visitors without local knowledge would not know that the creek ­made  Faversham, nor would they have any real idea of the importance of the area to the well-being of the town, either now or in the future, let alone in its past history.  It is not stressed that the creek area is relatively tiny and, more importantly, long and thin, so any large-scale development will be visually very intrusive.

There is no more important site in the town yet there is no attempt to put it in its wider context.              

There is remarkable insensitivity to the spirit of the place.  Indeed the proposals show the fatal current tendency of planners/councillors/committees not to be able to leave well alone. If it works, why meddle?  Of the greatest seriousness, the group does not put forward all the possible options for the creek.  Housing is often offered as the only solution for sites; the option of doing nothing for instance is not explored.

Needs of Faversham

The panels offer no discussion about the needs of Faversham: housing, industry, open spaces or positive preservation of its character for tourism.

Yet, given the positioning of the area, unless the town’s needs are precisely defined, its use cannot be planned.  What are the town’s true priorities and how can they be met on this site? Having agreed on the ‘needs’, the issue of how many of them can be met on the creek site can be considered.  It is unlikely that every ‘need’ can be accommodated as some are uncomfortable bedfellows ~ light industry, even ship building and repair do not mix naturally with expensive residential housing.

The site’s historic importance

Although all parties agree on the area’s great historic importance, no detailed archaeological survey of the site has been undertaken, nor has there been a systematic gathering of all documentary resources.  Do we really yet know the significance of Ordnance Wharf: was this the quay from which gunpowder left for Trafalgar?  Would excavation reveal a network of 16thcentury docks?  The uncertainty over the swing bridge epitomises the somewhat amateur nature of this plan.  As yet no one seems to know whether it can be restored, or the responsibilities of the respective parties, such as the KCC and Peel Ports.  This is not a new problem but is of fundamental importance to all considerations about the area.

The immediate past

There is no résumé of the development in the creek area to date: is the existing new build of architectural distinction; has public access to the creek been improved; have the arrangements for increased traffic been successful?  What has it contributed to the meeting the needs of the town. Has it created more jobs?  By even the most modest standards, what has happened already is no cause for celebration.  Why are the current proposals better as they look very much more of the same.

Impact of the proposals

There is no proper impact appraisal.

Traffic and emergency services

Faversham is not good at thinking about traffic.  The council’s decision in the 1930s to encourage industry to locate near Oare, necessitating every heavy vehicle to travel through the town until the Western Link was built (leading to the suffocation of Ospringe) is the best known example of this reluctance to consider the practical consequences of a development.   Have the increased car numbers of these proposals been evaluated?  Can the present street system cope?  Will ambulances and fire engines be able to reach the sites in the case of an emergency?  Are the sewers of Faversham able to cope with more housing in this area and who will pay for any updating?

Housing

There seems to be an assumption in the plans ~ and certainly this is reinforced by the flyer for the exhibition ~ that fitting in housing is a good thing.  Yet, if the number of units is added up, it does not add a significant number to the housing stock and certainly does not provide affordable housing.  The benefits are primarily to a small number of people, and certainly not the community as a whole.  Faversham’s housing needs are better met by jumping the A2 or developing off Love Lane, as has been proposed.

There is no profit or loss study over more housing.  What will this housing do to the viability of the shops in central Faversham?  Why is housing to be preferred to industry?  There may be no demand for industrial space this year, but if we are to recover economically it will be needed later this decade.

Employment

We are told that the creek will be ‘enriched by new business’ but there is no detail given. How many new jobs will be created?  Given that the area available for industry is drastically reduced it seems reasonable to suppose there will be a net loss of skilled job opportunities.

Viability of the proposed development

Throughout, there are references to commercial use, craft workshops, galleries and cafes, but there is no analysis of the viability of the additional retail activity.  Given the growth of charity shops and the number of empty premises in Faversham it is likely that the demand would be spread more thinly making the present town centre shops less viable.  There is a strong argument for vetoing almost all retail activity on the grounds it will make the present shopping centre even less sustainable. What happens in the creek should underpin the existing retail centre.  Under these plans the inevitable conflict between industrial and residential use will almost certainly see the departure of industry within a decade.  A firm stand must be made if Faversham is to remain a balanced community and not become a dormitory.  In the Vision statement we are told:  ‘Faversham Creek is leading the regeneration of the town’ but how it is doing it is far from clear.  Faversham requires tender loving care, not regeneration.

Leisure and Tourism

One of the few certainties about the future is that people will be living longer and are likely to be healthier and better educated than their grandparents.  This audience needs to be wooed.  (In very micro terms, the increased growth in walking has led to a several hundred percent increase in the number of visitors [and income] to Luddenham Church.)

I applaud the statement that we want ‘A place where we enjoy spending time’ but the proposals seem unlikely to deliver this aspiration.  Nothing significant is said about leisure or tourism.

Faversham has many of the right ingredients to benefit from the growth of tourism, notably a relatively well preserved town centre, but it does not have the critical mass yet to score highly with tourists deciding whether or not to visit Faversham, Sandwich or Deal.

Sensitively handled, the creek provides the extra dimension which would give the vital critical mass to Faversham as a tourist destination.  There are for instance a growing number of people who walk into Faversham from Whitstable and then return by train.  Potentially this area is an inexhaustible oil well for the town but if the plans as proposed go ahead it will dry up.  Visitors want ‘the real experience’, hence the success of Big Pit in South Wales.

The housing invasion planned will do incalculable harm to the creek as a visitor attraction.  The tourist is becoming increasingly sophisticated and has an ever-widening range of options so, if the creek does not tick all the boxes, it will not be visited.  Appropriate industrial development such as ship building and repair would enhance the appeal.

Open Space

There are not many towns left where the countryside sweeps virtually into the town centre at one point and is within walking distance of almost every resident.  It lifts the human spirit to walk down Abbey Street and out along the creek with its big skies or to approach the creek from Davington past the Western Works and over the swing bridge.  Since the 1950s the countryside has been pushed back aggressively on every other side of Faversham.  It no longer notably comes in to Stonebridge pond.  These proposals would irredeemably destroy one of Faversham’s greatest assets.  Why is there no discussion about the inclusion of additional open space on the pattern of that on the Front Brents?

The town has grown dramatically in population since the 60s but the provision of additional open space has not kept up.  The plan should allow for more so that the public have easy access.

Funding

Nothing is said about the availability of funding for a more publicly orientated development of the creek or for simply leaving it as is.  This is a serious omission as again it suggests housing is the only way forward.  Ten years ago the Heritage Lottery Fund made a grant of almost a million towards the costs of opening Oare Gunpowder Works Country Park to the public.  It has been a huge success.  Is there any reason to think that HLF would not fund a scheme for the creek which delivers what the town and its inhabitants need and deserve? This is a much more important project.

Comments on the panels

I have limited my remarks to a handful of points.

Objectives

Given the tiny area of the creek, many of these objectives are inevitably fighting each other.  For instance Objective 11 (Provide a range of housing…) fights 7 (Avoid significant harm to areas designated for their ecological importance…) and with the development of Faversham as a tourist destination.  To be successful there need to be far fewer objectives.

Ordnance Wharf Options

The timber walk-way along the frontage of the Shepherd Neame bottling store is an excellent idea.

The view from the creek up to the bushy hill of Davington crowned by the church is one of the great set pieces of Faversham.  Due to the presence of the allotments it has survived relatively unscathed.  It is also the point where tidal water meets the Stonebridge pond water.  As mentioned, the wharf may be that from which Faversham-made gunpowder left to be used in such battles as Trafalgar.

If this was Ironbridge in Shropshire, the wharf would be cherished as the key site in the industrial history of the area.  What is proposed is the construction of housing which compromises the view and destroys this unique site.  As important as being able to make gunpowder was the facility to move the powder safely to the customer; the creek provided the means.

Swan Quay

The gritty character of Faversham that will bring tourists is further squeezed out by these proposals.  The area should be limited to industrial/office/ social use such as the sea cadets. Residential, cafe and gallery use should be excluded.  What is there should be retained and cherished.  The new buildings as elsewhere, particularly at Standard Quay, are out of scale and far too high.  They would irreparably damage the historic townscape.

Standard Quay

Most visitors reach the creek by walking down Abbey Street, or Belvedere Road past the oil depot and the coach depot and then find a wonderfully higgledy piggledy group of buildings that were put up to meet local needs.  It understandably does not have the formal grandeur of Sheerness but is like the fishermen’s huts at Hastings.  What is proposed is a massive clear away and tidy up and the introduction of further housing.  The whole area should remain for commercial use.  What sort of commercial use is more difficult to predict with the country currently being in recession but a long view of at least fifty years has to be taken, and more research done on the nature of future small scale manufacturing.  Once given over to housing it will never again be available for industry and employment.

One of the attractive features of the Oil Depot is that it is low and the sky soars above it.

Standard House

In Caroline Hillier’s The Bulwark Shore of 1982 there is a photograph of this house, then complete with its original dormer windows with the Oyster Bay House beyond.  Why has no repairs notice been served on the owner by the local authority?  It is also worthwhile remembering when considering these proposals that a key principle of heritage legislation is that owners and developers should not benefit from the neglect of historic buildings.  The spirit of the creek will be destroyed if the suggested housing development goes ahead.

Yours sincerely

Timothy Stevens

Faversham Creek Consortium AGM

The first item was the re-election of the committee and a new member standing as a replacement for our Chris Wright, who stood down due to his appointment as our new Chairman. His replacement is Bob Telford.

Jeremy Lamb reported on the work of the Consortium and its future priorities, and Anne Salmon reported on the progress of the Neighbourhood Plan, which should result in a public consultation exhibition of the draft Plan this summer. The timetable for the referendum has been put back until 2014, to allow for the further public consultation.

1.B Amsterdam.night.tourist attractionChris Wright then gave an update on the Bridge, presenting a slide show of various lifting bridges, especially the one that lights up at night.

4.B Modern elegant design.Nieuwegen

5.B Leeds+Liverpool Canal.nr Wigan

5.C Greenland Dock.Surrey Quays.Rotherhithe

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Bob Berk gave a short talk on the history of the Creek Dredging, and a description of his and Eric Green’s homebuilt water injection [agitation] dredger.

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Brian Caffarey gave a resume of the Creekside Path Project.

After a few questions, the meeting was peremptorily closed at 8.30pm.

Trust response to Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan Presentation

This is an extract from the Trust’s response to the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan Initial Proposals and Options presentation at an exhibition on 5th May.

FCT Comments on  individual sites

Site 1. The Purifier Building  –  Now leased to the Trust for 35years to be used for Maritime Trades and the training of Apprentice Shipwrights. This should set the direction for other uses of the Basin. This facility will need access to the water to enable movement of craft to and from the side of the building [there being no access from Morrison’s Quayside]. Inevitably, there will be noise from the activities in the building, which make it incompatible with any immediately adjacent residential development such as on Ordnance Wharf.

Site 2. Ordnance Wharf  –  The current application to build a 4 storey block of flats on this site has met with vigorous resistance from the Trust, Faversham Town Council and large numbers of the local population. Importantly, if this planning application is given the go ahead, it will set a precedent for further residential development in the Basin. Policy B17, designating the Basin employment sites, must remain in force.

There is no doubt that this application will conflict with the activities of the maritime trades in the Purifier, as well as compete for access to the wharf side, potentially being blocked out by the rigid application of riparian rights.

The ideal use for this site is as a space for maritime activities, including cranage and storage and repair of medium sized craft.

Site 3A. The BMM Weston Car Park and Basin frontage  –  This should be reinstated as a wharf side, by piling and back-filling, to be used as moorings and include a public slip. The Car Park should be used as an open public access area, partly as a small craft parking area but also as grassed open space open onto the wharf side, and the slip.

Site 3B. Brent Hill shown as Site 3  –  This is not of direct interest to the Trust except that residential development should not be allowed so close nor so high as to conflict with the leisure activities of Site 3A.

Site 4.  Quay Lane/Belvedere Rd  –  The proposals presented recently, appear to be attractive and integrate existing buildings without interfering with access, use or visibility of the Creek itself. However, the Trusts’ view is that the successful Creek Creative facility should be continued on that site.

  Site 5. Swan Quay  –  This site with its important Creek frontage should be centered on maritime uses, a working quayside available for mooring and access to the town centre. Maritime businesses such as the existing Sail making should be accomodated and the Old Chandlery could even be returned to its original purpose.

Any new building should be set well back from the frontage and restricted to single storey, so as not to dominate the Old Chandlery. Behind that and fronting onto Belvedere Road, separate residential or mixed use development should fit in with the proposed development opposite.

The existing slip adjacent to the Town Quay should be extended for use as a light public slipway and the access and view widened. The fencing barriers should be removed so that public access is linked from Town Green along the front as far as possible.

Site 6. Former Oil Depot  –  There is an opportunity for some berths similar to those on the opposite bank. The quayside should be usable and accessible to boats to tie up alongside and access the town or Standard Quay. In addition there should be open public access that will continue to Standard Quay.

Any development should be set well back and not obscure the views of the Creek for the Abbey Street residents.

It would be helpful for continuity of design & planning if this site was designed and planned in collaboration with Site 7.

Site 7 – Coachworks and offices  –  The proposal for a mixed use development with ground floor quay side facilities, including toilets and showers, should remove any need to convert the Black buildings for other uses, guaranteeing that they are reserved for maritime trades.

 The scale and alignment should be kept to that of the Black buildings and the style should be complimentary.  Full public access should be maintained along the creek frontage to the existing moorings.

Site 8 – Standard Quay  –  The Quayside Properties’ proposals for this site are confusing and contradictory.  Despite the stated aims to maintain the Quay as a centre for Barge and large traditional craft repair, the quay continues to lose the interest of the traditional barge community. Restrictions on use of the quayside and access to the barges by crane; loss of dry dock facilities and the lack of resident shipwrights’ skills are at odds with the claimed aims.

Features of the plan, including a turning circle for cars, a leisure area alongside the quayside where there may be Barge Blocks and therefore boat building activities, parking along the quayside, but a complete lack of a proper working area for shipwrights’ activities, for such things as Masts and spars and large timbers, and heavy equipment, all contradict the claims.

Any change of use of the Black buildings on the basis of needing to subsidise the quayside and boatbuilding activities should be rejected completely because that will inevitably accelerate their downgrading as a maritime heritage asset, and their use for maritime trades. The insertion of a restaurant in the middle of workshops is not feasible and upgrading the sheds will result in them no longer being affordable workshops.

Site 9 – Standard House – Site 10 – Fentimans – agree with Vanguard.

Sites 11 – Upper Brents & 12 – Iron wharf and Chambers Wharf – Agree with Vanguard – must be preserved as industrial employment or maritime uses.

To See the Full Text click here: FCT Response to Neighbourhood Plan Initial Proposals