Category Archives: Ordnance Wharf

The Trust’s Regeneration Plan for the Basin in 2013

The Regeneration Plan for Faversham Creek Basin

has not really changed since 2013

Read how we saw the Bridge then

Summary

Since 2011 the Faversham Creek Trust has been working towards a regeneration plan that focuses on the upper part of Faversham Creek above the Brents Swing Bridge. The plan was first submitted to the Local Plan forum of the Creek Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group in November 2012. What appears here is a brief overview, revised for submission to the Faversham Town Council in November 2013.

We believe there is a unique opportunity for change in the centre of this historic town with significant economic and social benefits for residents and visitors alike. Our plan is based on the creation of a viable maritime economic facility, with workshops, moorings and a training school to serve the existing fleet of traditional vessels in the Thames Estuary.

The plan will be a team effort, with combined effort from several stakeholders including a charitable trust, a community association, identified private investors, and local and regional authorities.

The key elements

1. The regeneration of Ordnance Wharf as a single-storey marine workshop with office and community centre with access from Flood Lane, in conformity with the current local plan, the existing conservation area, and the plan now under preparation by the Brents Community Association. A potential purchaser has been confirmed subject to Ordnance Wharf not being re- zoned for housing. Implementation mid-2015.

Basin drawings 3 Ben White Nov13

2. The existing restored Purifier Building to be a training centre for students and apprentices to be run in conjunction with the Ordnance Wharf workshop. The five year plan envisages 18 students with an eventual capacity for 36 students per year. Implementation late 2015. There are also two specialist workshop units and a room for community activities.

Basin drawings 2 Ben White Nov13

3. The restoration of the BMM Weston Creek frontage outside the existing car park with the co- operation of the owner, on a long lease in exchange for the restoration cost. The resulting wharf (with back filling of a new piled frontage from the waterside) will provide moorings for up to ten sailing barges and smacks and a green amenity space along the current footpath. A private company will meet the cost of the operation to commence when the KCC has replaced the current swing bridge.

Basin drawings 1 Ben White Nov13

4. The replacement of the existing swing bridge by a new, opening bridge – by Kent County Council as a collaborative project in partnership with the Borough Council and the Town Council.

5. The repair or replacement of the sluice gates by Medway Ports and their subsequent management and dredging by the Faversham Creek Trust under licence by the authority.

The Lifting Bridge opening at High Tide for an awaiting barge, with another waiting to come out.Basin drawings 4 Ben White Nov13

These objectives are in line with feedback received from the May 2012 Creek Neighbourhood Plan exhibition and the June 2013 exhibition, and also with feedback from the Urban Initiatives consultation in 2009. They conform to Neighbourhood Plan objectives 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 11, 13, 15.

The benefits

The benefits arising from the regeneration are:

  1. Economic: the generation of new business turnover in marine workshops, training school and mooring fees, with a total annual value of £425,000 excluding indirect benefits.
  2. Job creation: the plan will create at least 50 new jobs including students and apprentices, but excluding tourism spin-off related employment in the town.
  3. Social: the regeneration of the Creek basin would remove an eyesore from the centre of the town. It replaces a derelict and unsafe area adjoining a public footpath by a safe waterfront and public space with a view over barges and the town skyline. The repaired or replaced sluice gates would permit water retention in the basin and therefore a safe water area for community activities, sea scouts and sail training not normally available in a tidal creek.
  4. Heritage: the plan as a whole provides a significant location in the Purifier Building and Ordnance Wharf workshops for a living maritime heritage centre where schoolchildren and visitors to the town can see shipwrights at work and engage with Faversham’s history.
  5. Visitor numbers: the annual number of visitors to Faversham (15,000 in 2011) would rise by at least 25% as a consequence of a revitalised basin. The experience of Maldon with its smaller resident population but a fleet of ten Thames Barges and 30,000 visitors supports this contention.

Implementation

We envisage that construction could begin in 2015, preceded by a planning application in 2014. The continued commitment of the KCC to a working bridge to the basin and confirmation of the existing zoning are key conditions to the success of the plan.

Board of Trustees, Faversham Creek Trust – 25 November 2013

Our Regeneration Plan for Faversham Creek Basin

Summary 

Since 2011 the Faversham Creek Trust has been working towards a regeneration plan that focuses on the upper part of Faversham Creek, the Basin above the Brents Swing Bridge. This plan is an updated version of the plan first submitted to the Stakeholder Workshop of the Creek Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group in November 2012, and then to Faversham Town Council in November 2013.

We believe there is a unique opportunity for restoration and development in the centre of this historic town with significant economic and social benefits for residents and visitors alike. Our plan is based on the creation of a viable maritime economic facility, with workshops, moorings and a training school to serve the existing fleet of traditional vessels in the Thames Estuary.

This plan, which now has backing from Swale Borough Council and Faversham Town Council,  will integrate the effort of several stakeholders including a charitable trust, a community association, identified private investors, and regional authorities.

The Key Elements

The replacement of the existing swing bridge by a new swing bridge – by Kent County Council as a collaborative project in partnership with the Borough Council, the Town Council and this Trust. This is the key to the Basin, and the Trust actively supports the public subscription funding opportunity that has been initiated by KCC to ensure that the bridge opens rather then remain a fixed bridge.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The regeneration of Ordnance Wharf as a maritime workshop, small boat yard and community centre, with access from Flood Lane, in conformity with the current local plan, the existing conservation area, and the plan now under preparation by the Brents Community Association. A potential purchaser has been confirmed subject to Ordnance Wharf not being re- zoned for housing. Implementation mid-2015.

Basin drawings 3 Ben White Nov13The Restored Purifier Building to be a training centre for students and apprentices to be run in conjunction with the Ordnance Wharf workshop. The five year plan envisages 18 students with an eventual capacity for 36 students per year. Implementation late 2015. There are also two specialist workshop units and a room for community activities.

Basin drawings 2 Ben White Nov13The restoration of the BMM Weston Creek frontage outside the existing car park with the co- operation of the owner. The resulting wharf will provide moorings for up to ten sailing barges and smacks and a green amenity space along the current footpath. A Community Interest company will manage the operation, when KCC has replaced the current swing bridge.

BASIN ROGER LOW 1The repair or replacement of the sluice gates by Peel Ports and their subsequent management, in conjunction with the operation of the new swing bridge.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Dredging of the Basin and the Creek by the Faversham Creek Navigation Company, a new Community Interest Company. A Maintenance Dredging licence has already been issued by Peel Ports, for the creek downstream from the bridge.

For the Basin, a Capital Dredging licence has been applied for,  to the Marine Management Organisation. This involves negotiation with the Environment Agency, Natural England, Peel Ports and other agencies who look after the waterbodies and the environment in the UK.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

All these objectives are in line with feedback received from all the Neighbourhood Plan exhibitions and they also conform to the relevant Neighbourhood Plan Objectives.

The Benefits

The benefits arising from this regeneration are comprehensive:

Economic: the generation of new business turnover in marine workshops, training school and mooring fees, with a total annual value of around £500,000 excluding indirect benefits.

Job creation: the plan will create at least 50 new jobs including students and apprentices, but excluding tourism spin-off related employment in the town.

Social: the regeneration of the Creek basin would remove an eyesore from the centre of the town. It replaces a derelict and unsafe area adjoining a public footpath, by a safe waterfront and public space with a view over barges and the town skyline. The Gates would permit water retention in the basin and therefore a safe water area for community activities, sea scouts and sail training not normally available in a tidal creek. IMG_1083

Heritage: the plan as a whole provides a significant location in the Purifier Building and Ordnance Wharf workshops for a living maritime heritage centre where schoolchildren and visitors to the town can see shipwrights at work and engage with Faversham’s history.

Visitor numbers: the annual number of visitors to Faversham (15,000 in 2011) would rise by at least 25% as a consequence of a revitalised basin. The experience of Maldon with its smaller resident population but a fleet of ten Thames Barges and 30,000 visitors supports this contention.

Implementation

The future of the Basin is entirely dependant upon the continued commitment of KCC, SBC and the Town Council, to an Opening Bridge and Gates. That policy and financial commitment, along with public subscription to the Bridge Fund, is currently the main focus of the Faversham Creek Trust, to ensure that the plans for the Basin are realised, for the benefit of all.

 

ORDNANCE WHARF AND THE CREEK NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN

EXTRAORDINARY MEETING OF THE TOWN COUNCIL

MONDAY 13th 7pm QE SCHOOL

Many of you will know that at the meeting last Tuesday, the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group signed off the final draft of the Creek Neighbourhood Plan. It is better than the original but there are some flaws, the most crucial being that residential development on Ordnance Wharf is still permitted.

Ordnance Wharf stands at the focal point of the Creek Basin where the centre of the marine hub will be when the bridge opens. A residential element would contribute little to the housing shortage and would severely hamper the Purifier project. The Council’s consultant appears to believe that housing, a community centre, and shipbuilding can all be accommodated on one small site, and seems not to recognise that a designation that permits housing will raise the commercial value of the land to a level that effectively prices out all other uses.

So as it stands, the Plan puts much of the work carried out by volunteers on the project, together with the contributions of well-wishers throughout the Town, at risk. Would it not be better if the Council supported their efforts? What would it cost them to amend the designation for one site?

The Mayor has called an Extraordinary Meeting of the Town Council to approve the Plan. It will take place at 7 pm on Monday 13 October at the Queen Elizabeth grammar School. I know we all have other things to do, but this time the whole Town Council will be involved, and they can’t be wholly insensitive to the implications of what is being proposed.

The meeting will also consider the question of an opening bridge, which could unlock the potential of the Basin and increase the flow of private investment into the project. We don’t know what the Mayor is going to propose and it could be vital.

It is important that as many people as possible attend this meeting, to ensure that the Town Council understand that the issues are important to a broad cross-section of the residents of Faversham, regardless of their particular views.

Chris Wright  –  Chairman Faversham Creek Trust

Good Reason to go to the Council Meeting Monday 7th

At its meeting on 25 March, the steering group voted to approve a first draft of the Neighbourhood Plan which, for a small number of sites (Ordnance Wharf, the Oil Depot and the Coach Depot) included alternative options – either predominantly housing, as proposed by the respective landowners/developers and supported by the steering group majority, or industrial/training/community use as proposed in the Business Case and by the Faversham Creek Trust and the Brents Community Association, in line with feedback from previous consultations. Discussion of alternative options for Swan Quay was deferred until the following meeting on 1 April.

At the April 1 meeting, diverging from the published agenda, steering group member Andrew Osborne proposed, seconded by Councillor Mike Cosgrove, that all decisions to include alternative options for site uses should be overturned. Votes were taken site-by-site and all alternatives were deleted except for Ordnance Wharf.

Mr Osborne said it would be open to anyone to put forward alternative proposals during the consultation process.

The revised draft of the Neighbourhood Plan will be put before Faversham Town Council for approval at its next meeting on Monday 7 April. There will be an opportunity for questions from the public before the meeting.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS OPPORTUNITY TO ASK WHY THEY WENT THROUGH THE 25 MARCH CHARADE AND WHAT POSSIBILITY IS THERE OF ALTERNATIVES TO THE DRAFT PLAN BEING ACCEPTED AT THE NEXT CONSULTATION, GIVEN THE VOTING RECORD OF THE STEERING GROUP.

The Trust’s Regeneration Plan for the Basin

Regeneration Plan for Faversham Creek Basin

Summary

Since 2011 the Faversham Creek Trust has been working towards a regeneration plan that focuses on the upper part of Faversham Creek above the Brents Swing Bridge. The plan was first submitted to the Local Plan forum of the Creek Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group in November 2012. What appears here is a brief overview, revised for submission to the Faversham Town Council in November 2013.

We believe there is a unique opportunity for change in the centre of this historic town with significant economic and social benefits for residents and visitors alike. Our plan is based on the creation of a viable maritime economic facility, with workshops, moorings and a training school to serve the existing fleet of traditional vessels in the Thames Estuary.

The plan will be a team effort, with combined effort from several stakeholders including a charitable trust, a community association, identified private investors, and local and regional authorities.

The key elements

1. The regeneration of Ordnance Wharf as a single-storey marine workshop with office and community centre with access from Flood Lane, in conformity with the current local plan, the existing conservation area, and the plan now under preparation by the Brents Community Association. A potential purchaser has been confirmed subject to Ordnance Wharf not being re- zoned for housing. Implementation mid-2015.

Basin drawings 3 Ben White Nov13

2. The existing restored Purifier Building to be a training centre for students and apprentices to be run in conjunction with the Ordnance Wharf workshop. The five year plan envisages 18 students with an eventual capacity for 36 students per year. Implementation late 2015. There are also two specialist workshop units and a room for community activities.

Basin drawings 2 Ben White Nov13

3. The restoration of the BMM Weston Creek frontage outside the existing car park with the co- operation of the owner, on a long lease in exchange for the restoration cost. The resulting wharf (with back filling of a new piled frontage from the waterside) will provide moorings for up to ten sailing barges and smacks and a green amenity space along the current footpath. A private company will meet the cost of the operation to commence when the KCC has replaced the current swing bridge.

Basin drawings 1 Ben White Nov13

4. The replacement of the existing swing bridge by a new, opening bridge – by Kent County Council as a collaborative project in partnership with the Borough Council and the Town Council.

5. The repair or replacement of the sluice gates by Medway Ports and their subsequent management and dredging by the Faversham Creek Trust under licence by the authority.

The Lifting Bridge opening at High Tide for an awaiting barge, with another waiting to come out.Basin drawings 4 Ben White Nov13

These objectives are in line with feedback received from the May 2012 Creek Neighbourhood Plan exhibition and the June 2013 exhibition, and also with feedback from the Urban Initiatives consultation in 2009. They conform to Neighbourhood Plan objectives 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 11, 13, 15.

The benefits

The benefits arising from the regeneration are:

  1. Economic: the generation of new business turnover in marine workshops, training school and mooring fees, with a total annual value of £425,000 excluding indirect benefits.
  2. Job creation: the plan will create at least 50 new jobs including students and apprentices, but excluding tourism spin-off related employment in the town.
  3. Social: the regeneration of the Creek basin would remove an eyesore from the centre of the town. It replaces a derelict and unsafe area adjoining a public footpath by a safe waterfront and public space with a view over barges and the town skyline. The repaired or replaced sluice gates would permit water retention in the basin and therefore a safe water area for community activities, sea scouts and sail training not normally available in a tidal creek.
  4. Heritage: the plan as a whole provides a significant location in the Purifier Building and Ordnance Wharf workshops for a living maritime heritage centre where schoolchildren and visitors to the town can see shipwrights at work and engage with Faversham’s history.
  5. Visitor numbers: the annual number of visitors to Faversham (15,000 in 2011) would rise by at least 25% as a consequence of a revitalised basin. The experience of Maldon with its smaller resident population but a fleet of ten Thames Barges and 30,000 visitors supports this contention.

Implementation

We envisage that construction could begin in 2015, preceded by a planning application in 2014. The continued commitment of the KCC to a working bridge to the basin and confirmation of the existing zoning are key conditions to the success of the plan.

Board of Trustees, Faversham Creek Trust – 25 November 2013

Creek Plan Steering Group meets Tues. 15th

Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group meets at the Guildhall on Tuesday 15th October at 7pm.

A paper, written by a sub committee, outlining recommendations for the various sites, after meetings with the landowners, will be presented. 

Against widely expressed local views, especially at the recent exhibition, the Group will hear a recommendation that Ordnance Wharf should be a Residential site.

You should be aware that, following the addition of new members onto the Steering Group, including this Trust and the Brents Community Association, the Town Council voted to exclude these Non Councillor members from having a vote on decisions. 

This is a crucial meeting for the future of the Neighbourhood Plan. It is important that there is a large turn-out for this meeting so that as many people as possible hear what is being proposed.

So, please attend this meeting, to hear and see the democratic process at work… and maybe influence it a little by a show of numbers.

For some background to the democratic process the following is an extract from the last FCNPSG minutes;

2.2 Nigel Kay explained that, as a statutory Committee of the Town Council, only Councillors would be able to vote.  Other votes taken by all the Steering Group could only be advisory.  The Group discussed whether it should continue to be a statutory Committee and, therefore, bound by those legal requirements and the Standing Orders, or whether it should become an Advisory Committee, which could develop its own rules and procedures.

It was noted that advice had been received that both options were available for Neighbourhood Plan development and examples were given where the community engagement had been commended by the Independent Examiner (Littlehampton and Thame.  The latter had received an award from RTPI for best practice in developing a Neighbourhood Plan).

Brenda Chester proposed, seconded by Chris Wright that the Steering Group should cease to be a Committee of the Town Council, and become an Advisory Committee.  On being put to the meeting, the vote was 4 for the proposal and 6 against.  The vote being lost, it was agreed the Steering Group should continue as a statutory Committee of the Council.

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

Creek Neighbourhood Plan Exhibition Sat 8th June

THIS EXHIBITION IS THE LAST PUBLIC CONSULTATION 

IT IS ABSOLUTELY VITAL THAT EVERYONE TAKES THIS OPPORTUNITY TO LOOK AT THE PRESENTATIONS AND SAY WHAT YOU THINK.

According to the minutes of the steering group meeting on 14 March, this will “probably be the last time for options to be presented to the public for their comments”.

viewer

 

An artist has been commissioned to produce a set of master plan perspectives: a view of the inner basin from the bridge; a view of the creek from Crab Island back to the bridge; a view from Waterside looking up the creek, taking in Standard Quay, the oil depot and the former coach depot.

In addition there will be thumbnail sketches of Standard House, Swan Quay from across the creek, and the bridge. At least one of the master plans will include a sketch of an open bridge.

For Ordnance Wharf there will be four sketches showing different structural designs (two different heights and two different sets of materials).

Thoughts on the future of Barges at Standard Quay

After the Beeching Axe, many groups set out to recover the lost Steam Railway heritage, rebuild some lines and engines and stock and keep them alive, eventually turning them into successful and financially viable tourist attractions. Also, against similar resistance, many people kept the canals open, even digging out some that had been deliberately filled to stop them being used; another enormously successful holiday and tourist resource. In both cases the infrastructure was integral to their success.

Now compare all that with the last 40 Thames Barges, the sea-going equivalent of the canal boats and the steam engines, but now in a much more vulnerable state, and wonder why some people are so set on allowing Standard Quay, one of the last refuges for barges, to become unattractive to them, and that community to drift away. This is the essential infrastructure, like canals and railways, that the barges need to survive, a home where they can be restored and maintained.

An essential part of that infrastructure are the simple Black Sheds used as workshops and storage by the maritime craftsmen. The first of these is planned to be converted into a restaurant and public exhibition areas.

The challenge was publicly laid down in the Faversham Times Jan 17,” M White said he was confident the plans would be accepted on appeal even if they were refused by local councils. …. It would be hard for a planning inspector to ignore the benefits this project would bring to the town.” Apparently, local people and their representatives are of no consequence as they do not appreciate the desperate need for more Restaurants, more Car Parking, more Gentrification.

Unfortunately the much quoted Vision of AAP2 [below] is already fading, with a desolate Quay, home to top-hampered houseboats, symptom of an inert, tidied and urbanised waterfront, embellished with flowering window boxes and washing lines, and the last working barges waiting to go somewhere else for repair; one or two showpiece barges to attract tourists, but no repairs or work that might conflict with the sanitised quayside or the Car Parking. A pastiche of the working Quay that existed until recently.

The boatbuilders have left, along with their combined skills and experience and tools and floating docks and cranes and stacks of timber and drying sails. That total facility with its cooperative management that enabled large wooden craft to be repaired and restored at a  single facility, by its many independent craftsmen, has already dispersed.

28   Standard Quay AP PC

All the effort that went into regenerating the Quay over 18 years has been ignored by the constant and disingenuous reference to the need for regeneration of the Quay, as if had not already successfully happened. No amount of appeals to the Director of Regeneration and local councillors, who admitted the lost employment and training opportunities, seemed to have any effect. Regeneration seems to mean only one thing and that is Gentrification.

Of course, they could have been retained, and could even be re-assembled, if the infrastructure, the sheds and access to the Quay side, were made available on acceptable conditions, but it would also require experienced management that has the skill and empathy with those trades. A comparable scenario is Gweek Quay in Cornwall where the ownership and management has changed but the site remains an attractive and prosperous place to work.

So, is conversion of basic affordable craftsmens’ workshops and storage, into the expensive fabric of a public access building, with restaurant and exhibition areas, a  sustainable move or simply commercial exploitation, concomitant with an increase in the value of the property, putting it forever out of reach of craftsmen; the start of a program of change of use, upgrade and revaluation; the steady gentrification of Faversham’s last working Quay,

Well, already many people are worried; just how many worriers will influence the direction of development of not just the Quay but also for the whole of the remaining developable Creekside, through the Neighbourhood Plan process. These will not just be a few “people who object to everything”. The last petition on this subject quickly raised over 1500 signatures.

The attack on AAP2 started when the Fullwood Report was published, which reduced everything to a visionless pragmatism based on a narrowly defined economic viability, focused on ‘a presumption in favour of the development of more creekside housing’;  even succeeding in changing the flood risk rules to enable development where it would previously have been refused; it wrote off the Basin and Bridge as uneconomic and unwanted resources and considered there was no economic justification for dredging the Creek.

The Trust’s acquisition of the Purifier Building and the plans for its use for Maritime Trades and Apprentice School, include a dredged Basin and opening Bridge, and showed that the assumptions of the Fullwood plan were flawed.

Then came the opportunity of the Creek Neighbourhood Plan, which enables local representatives to create a plan based on local consultation. This plan is not due to be put to a Referendum until later this year.

The application for the change of use of the No1 Black Shed, SW/12/1523/4, has the potential to improperly influence the Neighbourhood Plan. Therefore, this application should be rejected, as was the application last year to develop Ordnance Wharf, at least until the Neighbourhood Plan has been agreed by common consent at referendum and adopted into the Swale Plan.

Of course, it is possible that the Plan may be rejected; the much threatened result would be a ‘Presumption in favour of sustainable development’, widely interpreted as meaning that development anarchy would prevail. However, this may not be true, and it may be that the planning framework would revert to the current Swale 2008 Plan, which incorporates AAP2.

R Telford

Policy AAP2 – Faversham Creekside

An Area Action Plan is designated for Faversham Creekside, as shown on the Proposals Map. Within this area the Borough Council will seek to ensure that it continues to function as a place of special interest and activity with strong associations with the water, and will specifically encourage the regeneration of the creek basin for commercial and tourism purposes, including use of the basin and its wharfage for historic craft. Planning permission will not be granted for proposals that would result in the loss of land or buildings suitable for employment uses or, on appropriate sites, would not involve active use or management of the creek itself. All development proposals will:

  1. maintain or enhance a mix of uses and activity that respect the maritime, industrial and residential character, as appropriate to the varied parts of the AAP area;
  2. maintain or enhance an environment appropriate to enable traditional waterside activities to flourish, including, where appropriate, financially contributing toward improving and maintaining the navigability of the creek channel and its infrastructure, including providing wharfage and moorings;
  3. preserve or enhance the area’s special archaeological, architectural and historic character, including its open spaces; and
  4. avoid any significant adverse environmental impacts and where possible enhance the biodiversity interest of neighbouring internationally designated sites for nature conservation.

The Borough Council will expect development to:

  1. preserve or enhance landmark and other important buildings, waterside structures and details;
  2. preserve and create access to the waterside, including wharfage and moorings, and where appropriate provide for a creekside walk;
  3. by use of its grain, scale, form and theme of materials, be creekside in character;
  4. retain existing greenspace and, where appropriate provide new areas; and
  5. retain or enhance existing townscapes, including those in the views of higher ground.

A Supplementary Planning Document will be prepared and adopted by the Council to guide matters relating to the Area Action Plan.

for Standard Quay

Standard Quay: safeguarding this historically outstanding enclave of water-related and business activity; encouraging commercial uses that continue to sensitively occupy historic buildings; and promoting new employment uses to occupy appropriate sites, such as that allocated at Standard House (see Policy B16). Ensuring that traditional and other vessels continue to have access to the creekside, and that the facilities and services essential to their upkeep are maintained here, is essential. Residential development will not be permitted as it is considered likely to harm the historic interest of this area, both in terms of the existing buildings, and as a place of commercial activity.

Interesting Response to Ordnance Wharf Proposal

This Application was withdrawn on 8th June although we were not told until the 13th June.

Letter to the Editor, Faversham News, 7 June 2010  –  ORDNANCE WHARF

We hope that Swale planners will have the sense to reject not only the current planning application for Ordnance Wharf [Gardner Digs, Faversham News, May 24] but also any future applications for housing on the site, even if they’re a lot better-looking than this one.

It’s not just about size and appearance (and there’s nothing inherently wrong with modern design: Faversham could do with some good 21st-century architecture and less of the usual pastiche). It’s about function.

Faversham Creek has the potential to be the town’s biggest asset. Our councillors should ensure that any waterside developments are for long-term community benefit – employment, visitor attractions, public spaces, flood prevention – rather than short-term private profit.

Let’s have no pretence that residential development here would serve a social purpose by fulfilling housing need. This is prime waterfront property for the privileged. Concreting over the Creekside and turning it into a dormitory estate will kill off any prospect of a living, working, interesting Creek. Housing on Ordnance Wharf in particular will stifle any development of maritime activities in the Creek basin.

This is not just speculative scaremongering. Your front-page story [End of an era as last dry dock goes, Faversham News, May 24] shows how it’s already happening. Standard Quay risks shooting itself in the foot with gentrification driving away the boatyard activities that are its lifeblood and its greatest attraction.

In response to the public consultation on the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan, we suggested that the Creekside area should be zoned. In Zone 1 (fronting the Creek, including Ordnance Wharf and other sites around the basin) any development should be small-scale, low-rise and low-density, with plenty of open space and access to the waterfront – and it should be primarily for employment or public amenity. Residential development should be confined to Zone 2 (the rest of the area).

We further suggested that Swale should ring-fence s106/CIL receipts from any such developments for long-term investment in Faversham Creek, and that it should impose a requirement for zero- carbon housebuilding standards, making Faversham a centre of excellence for eco-design and construction.

While the consultation is still in progress, surely there should be a moratorium on any planning permission for Creekside housing developments – otherwise the bulldozers will have moved in before we have a chance to vote on the Neighbourhood Plan in the August 2013 referendum, making a complete nonsense of local democracy.

Hilary Whelan & Chris Berry Faversham