Category Archives: Standard Quay

Restaurant at No 1 Standard Quay

The Faversham Society does not support the development of a restaurant in Building 1 of Standard Quay. The Society is disappointed that there is to be further gentrification at Standard Quay and that this important quayside townscape is being developed in the way that it is, the extent of car parking and retail in the areas around these iconic buildings detracts from them. The development of the restaurant will further detract from the conservation area and an important part of Faversham’s maritime heritage is being lost as the quayside becomes a shopping and café/restaurant area. There are also legitimate concerns about the increasing flow of traffic in Abbey Street and a significant flood risk.

The best use for a conserved building is one as close as possible to its original use. A restaurant is far from that. Both the Society’s Planning Committee and the Board have spent time carefully examining the proposal. We have published the outcome of discussions in the Planning Committee (see below). The Board considered the Planning Committee’s analysis and with regret decided not to object to the planning application. Whilst we see no grounds for rejecting the planning application on planning grounds, and do not wish to see the Council required to pay further compensation to the developer, this does not mean that we support the application.

The Planning Inspector’s Decision in January 2014 rejected Swale’s case except on heritage conservation grounds. He pointed out that the “workmanship and utilitarian nature of the building envelope exemplified by the rough and ready quality of its finishes and internal spaces, all contribute to its special architectural interest and to its historic character as part of the wharf.”[1] The Inspector further pointed to the importance of the building’s “form and finishes …which evokes the long history of the quay..”[2]

The Inspector expressed concern that in order to turn the building into a restaurant, the overall nature of the building would change and that “the overall nature of the building and of the conservation area would be significantly damaged.” The Swale Conservation Officer has secured detailed specifications, in the Heritage Statement, on the internal form and finishing and the Board consequently saw no grounds for rejecting the application. The focus now shifts to compliance with the conditions placed on the planning permission.

The Society has invited Swale Planners and Enforcement Officers to a members’ evening in the Fleur Hall on February 16th at 19:30. We shall be discussing the Council’s approach to planning compliance and enforcement and we shall be pressing the Council to ensure that all the details so carefully defined in the application will be enforced. In our view conditions should be attached to the decision – if the decision is to allow the application – and those conditions should be detailed, robust and enforced.

The Society will object where we can identify planning grounds, once the planning permission passes the issue is compliance. This may be an example where planning has secured good design – the proof will be in the degree of compliance. If the restaurant were to fail there may well be an application for change of use or further gentrification. The Society will remain vigilant.

Another Restaurant on Standard Quay

A Letter from Ray Harrison to Swale Borough Council Planning Dept.

Planning and listed building consent applications 16/508342/LBC and 18/508341/Full for Building No 1, Standard Quay, Abbey Road, Faversham, Kent, ME13 7BS.

I wish to raise objection to the proposals put forward in the above applications. I understand that this letter may arrive outside the closing date for public comment but would be grateful if you could nonetheless consider it, given that part of the consultation period fell over the winter break.

In relation to the previous applications at this site and the Appeal against their refusal, it was a proposed new restaurant use that the Inspector, in the Appeal Decisions dated 16 Jan 2015, ruled unacceptably damaging in principle to the character of the listed building.

The Appeal cases referred to are Appeal A: APP/V2255/A/13/2202894 and Appeal B: APP/V2255/E/13/2202924, both relating to Building No 1, Standard Quay, Abbey Road, Faversham, Kent, ME13 7BS.

The current applications as now tabled remain essentially unaltered from those that have gone before in respect of the principle of the proposed new restaurant element. As noted it was upon the principle of the new restaurant use that the previous Appeals failed.

To support my case of objection I set out some detail from the Committee Report on the Appeal and the Appeal Decision itself as follows –

The Council’s Planning Committee Report of 12th March 2015, Item 3.2, page 115, headed ‘The Appeal Decision..’ This is a very good summary of the Appeal Decision, written at the time for the benefit of Members.

The main part of the head para, Para 8.03 of the Report, on page 115 reads:
‘ In the Inspector’s Appeal decision… he dismissed the Council’s case … He identified (that) the main issue to be considered was whether the proposals would preserve the special interest of the listed building, and preserve or enhance the character of the conservation area.’

Para 8. 04 of the Report quotes the Inspector. The key part of this quoted passage is as follows:
‘… Overall, I find that the significance of the building lies in the part it plays in the wharf as a whole and by enclosing a space which evokes the utilitarian uses for which it was built and subsequently used.’

Para 8.05 provides further quotation, the important passage here being:
‘….The changes that would be necessary to turn the building into a restaurant would make its appearance far smarter and more refined. As a result, the overall nature of the building would change and this important element of its special interest would be altered so much that the character of both the building and the conservation area would be significantly damaged. If the appeals were permitted, it would be unreasonable to refuse subsequent consent for cleanable surfaces for food preparation, additional signage or measures to reduce draughts and this incremental damage would further harm the significance of the listed building.’

Para 8.06 notes that:
‘He (the inspector) took the view that the significantly harmful level of intervention proposed in order to convert the building to a restaurant was not necessary to sustain the future of the listed building.’

Para 8.08 notes that:
‘He concluded that, on balance, the proposals failed to preserve and would cause harm to the special interest of the listed building and the character of the conservation area, and that the benefits of the scheme would not outweigh the harm.’

Relevant extracts from the Appeal decision.

Extract – Para 8, page 2 of the Decision:
….Overall, I find that the significance of the building lies in the part it plays in the wharf as a whole and by enclosing a space which evokes the utilitarian uses for which it was built and subsequently used.

Extract – Para 14, page 3 of Decision:
‘… While the current roof covering might not be adequate for its proposed use, it was perfectly adequate for its last use and, as maritime storage or maritime related uses, it is probably not necessary for the building to be entirely weather tight or draught proofed….’

Extract – Para 16, page 4 of Decision.
‘…I find that the costs to sustain the building for storage or maritime uses need not entail the level of intervention proposed….Moreover, given that the building was in use in roughly its current condition before the last lease was terminated, I find that occupiers could be found to fund the extent of repairs required without changing the use of the building.’

The significance and implications of the Inspector’s judgments.

It was the inspector’s view that an important part of the significance of the building lies in the entity of its form (space, structure and finishes), inside and out, as it survived as a maritime uses structure, in one form or another, from its inception until its modern maritime-use related leases were terminated by the Appellant.

He considered that maritime uses or maritime storage uses could have continued and that these would have brought in sufficient funds to keep the building wind and weather tight – i.e. appropriate for the uses involved and entirely appropriate also for the location on an historic industrial maritime Quay in the Faversham conservation area.

The proposed restaurant use would involve the ‘smartening-up’ of the building. One particular area of smartening, as the drawings show, is to the insides of its external envelope where insulation and internal wall and roof sheathing significantly reduce the quality of extant interior character.

Such changes to character are seen in timber framed barn conversions through the County. There is no doubt, and experience shows, that in these cases, after ‘conversion’ the barns are left with little evidence of their millennial original functions of crop storage in great open bays and the heavy, dusty and back breaking winter time manual labour of threshing .

The farmer is invariably able to demonstrate that his barn is inappropriate for modern day agricultural use. Conversion then introduces entirely non-agriculturally related uses, such as residential, that might be brought in to ‘save’ the building from dereliction.

This case however differs from the standard barn conversion exercise because as noted by the Inspector there was a previous and viable use of the building. This perpetuated the historic working characteristics of this traditional, pre-industrial, timber-framed, maritime related structure – inside and out – protecting its fragile historic character.

It is important to recognise that this particular type of building, of this age and form and in this historic condition, is a very a rare, and vanishing, phenomenon in its own right today – vanishing in part of course due to the success of planning/LBC applications such as this one.

The implication of the Inspector’s ruling is that restaurant use would only be acceptable if it posed as little threat to the historic entity of the building as did its last rented uses, which the Appellant had discontinued (see comment on Para 8.06 of the Council’s report, (page 1 here) and Par 16, page 4 of the Decision, (page 2) here). And this of course is impossible. This remains the case with the current application, just as much as with its predecessor.

I fully concur with the Inspector’s ruling and believe, like him, that in the interests of preserving the unusual degree of historic interest that this very rare, threatened building possesses, the current application for its re development (which in respect of the restaurant element at least follows those that have gone before) should be refused.
J.R.Harrison. AA Dipl., Registered Architect, Dipl. Cons (York), MIHBC.

Standard Quay, a Heritage Site

This note which was prepared by Richard Hugh Perks in 2011.

At that time he placed the Quay in the context of comparable facilities: Cinque Port quaysides (Faversham, Whitstable Harbour, Margate Harbour, Rye Harbour, etc.) as these all fell within the Nord Pas de Calais EU Maritime Heritage Area which ran from Hastings round the coast to Faversham; Arthur Percival had also suggested Nieuwpoort, and Hugh Perks then added Etaples.

Hugh Perks went on to say:
“Warehouses on the Standard Quay Frontage

The importance of the warehouses/storage buildings/workshops fronting Standard Quay in Faversham is their grouping. They are among some of the few surviving early 19th groups of similar buildings which have remained substantially unaltered in character and use. An example of such a group of buildings is the Hastings Net Shops, which were restored around ten years ago under a Heritage Economic Regeneration (HERS) scheme.

It has not been possible to date the Standard Quay buildings from documentary evidence. They are shown in their present configuration on the 1867 1:2,500 Ordnance Survey plan, but not on the c.1745 plan of Faversham known as Jacob’s Map, which depicts only one building on the quayside in this location in front of what is now known as Monks Granary. In medieval times the quay and site of the buildings formed part of Faversham Abbey, however, no quayside buildings are depicted on Elia Allen’s 16th C. plan of Abbey Farm.

It is likely that this group of buildings in their present form date from shortly after 1843 when the New Navigation was dug, forming a new channel to the east of the eastern end of Standard Quay. The Faversham Navigation Commission documents held at the Faversham Society show that under the Faversham Navigation Act of 1842 Notice to commence works was served on Lord Sondes, owner of Standard Quay, and on his tenants, Mark Redman’s barge yard and George Crocker’s sail loft. Part of the frontage was taken to accommodate the cutting of the New Navigation but plans do not show the extent of the width of quay taken. The Notice indicates that some buildings existed on the quayside frontage prior to 1842.

The New Navigation enabled substantially larger vessels to navigate up to and beyond Standard Quay. The quayside buildings would have been used primarily for the storage of bulk goods, but also as workshops for quayside activities, including shipbuilding and repairing. This use continued into the early 1980’s when commercial trade ceased to Standard Quay. The Inspector of Nuisances schedule of shipping for 1880-1882 lists vessels berthing at Standard Quay – brigs, schooners, ketches and one fully-rigged ship. Among them are several vessels from the Baltic delivering cereals and timber to Standard Quay – hence the naming of the group of quayside buildings as Baltic House.

The actual quayside buildings themselves are of timber framing and weatherboard cladding. The roofs, however, are not original and were rebuilt to a steeper pitch following incendiary bombing of the quay during the last war. A full survey of the timber framing has not yet been carried out, however there is evidence that some ships’ timbers were used in their construction. For example, a tying beam in one building is formed of the keel and deadwood of a fishing smack.

The quayside buildings form an important group of vernacular structures. Although listed, were these buildings to be altered to provide leisure and other facilities the now rare character of one of the few surviving such groups of industrial buildings would be lost.


Richard Hugh Perks, Local Maritime Historian and Author, and Building Conservation Surveyor, Visiting Professor in the architecture of medieval buildings, University of Trento. Currently course director, Building Surveying, Canterbury College.”

 

The Present and the Future for Creek and Town

This film is a taster for a new film being produced by Mike Maloney.

This is what it is all about for this Trust, for the future of the Creek and the Town.

Mike’s other work, such as the famous ‘A Sideways Launch’, can be seen at;

http://www.cwideprods.co.uk/productions/

I make no apologies for also reproducing an updated, related, editorial here,  from last June after Alan Staley, Boatbuilder at Chambers Wharf, won the Craft Skills Award for ‘Encouraging Craft Skills in the Workplace, from the same organisation [Heritage Crafts Assoc.] that awarded Sixer his  for volunteering.

Go to: http://ccskills.org.uk/news/story/craft-skills-awards-winners-announced, and watch the video, Alan and his staff star at 3minutes along.

It is interesting to summarise the recent past, the current, and the developing crafts and skills presence on the Creek;

Ironwharf supports several self-employed boatbuilders, and a Chandlery, and accommodates large craft, including Thames Barges, alongside the Quay and in their floating dock for repair. It is a rare reasonably priced onshore store for dozens of craft, where owners can repair and maintain them.

Chambers Wharf is Alan Staley, Boatbuilder, with a slip and moorings for small to medium sized craft, and a history of successful projects; famously quoted above, on UNDINA for Griff Rhys Jones.

Standard Quay, over a period of 18 years, up to 2011, supported up to 10 craftsmen, and many others, several of whom were highly respected Shipwrights, and included a nascent apprentice scheme, a Block Maker, a complete £m1.4 restoration of a historic craft, but more importantly, developed by a knowledgeable, co-operative and supportive management style and with resources that attracted large traditional craft to the Quay, for berthing, maintenance and restoration.

Swan Quay has been the home of the Sail Maker, Wilkinson Sails, for several years, where they have trained young sailmakers,.

Faversham Creek Trust is developing a maritime trades centre at the Purifier, with a specific mandate to develop the training of Apprentice Shipwrights; it is also home for two craftsmen; one displaced by a developer from Standard quay.

Another important near-creek success story is Creek Creative, maybe not maritime, but certainly craft and small business oriented and supportive.

And yet, some still argue that because there is a lack of maritime businesses rushing to take up the available spaces on the Creek now, the only viable way forward is for these spaces to be given over to speculators and developers of upmarket exclusive housing, or to convert the simple quayside workshops and storage sheds in to bijou restaurants, or worse, museums of the maritime glory already forced away.

These are the same people who flatly refuse to investigate any alternative economic case, and have failed to consider intelligently, a major  positive economic report freely presented to them, because it told them something that they did not want to hear.

They are wrong, of course; if we ignore the history of success above, by failing to build on it and create the waterside space needed for its future, then we must all carry the blame in the years to come. What is needed now for the success of that future, is the time to develop small businesses, supported by an infrastructure of affordable space and a network of complementary crafts and businesses.

That is sustainability. That is what the Presumption in Favour of Sustainable Development quoted in the National Planning Policy Framework is all about. It is certainly not about banging up a few more houses on every available tired industrial site, extracting some small penalty, or is it a bribe, ostensibly for the benefit of the community, which will disappear into some distant pot.

Amongst the site owners, are long standing businesses that have prospered in Faversham, but who, due to changes in the commercial opportunities, have been left with sites that need regeneration; they are not developers themselves, and generally have been in no hurry to sell off to speculators.

It is to these owners that we should turn, in humility, ask them to remember when and how they started, and ask for their support for the future of the Creek as a thriving busy waterway, with relevant businesses, and community areas. That is the compromise that we seek. They should be reminded that the case for developing maritime businesses on the creek has been researched and proven.

Morrisons took the risk when they agreed to give the Purifier to this Trust, a six month old and unknown group then, but with an interesting proposition about the maritime future of the Creek and training of shipwright apprentices. It took two years for the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group to accept the Trust as a representative body with a significant membership.

As Arthur Percival reminds us, Henry Hatch gave his fortune to the benefit of the Town, and the Creek – not a Street. Surely Henry would approve of the development of the Creek and Creekside for the sustainable benefit of maritime trade and employment.

R Telford, Editor.

SQ Black Shed Restaurant Appeal Dismissed

The appeal against the decision by Swale Borough Council to refuse to grant planning permission for a restaurant in the No 1 Black Shed, has been dismissed.

However, it was dismissed only on the main issues of the preservation of the special interest of the listed building, and the preservation or enhancement of the character or appearance of the conservation area.

The three additional issues of vitality and viability, marine history and future maritime related use, and highway safety, were rejected. This resulted in costs being awarded against SBC for these issues.

It is worthwhile reading the reasoning of the Inspector [very readable] especially with regard to possible future creekside planning issues. It is critical to supply proper evidence to support claims.

Interestingly, the Inspector does mention ‘risk of flooding’ in his concluding remarks for dismissal of the appeal.

Full Text below – click on link

1. DECISION       2.  COSTS DECISION

 

SQ Black Shed Restaurant – Appeal Hearing 18th December

Town and Country Planning Act 1990

Appeal By: Quayside Properties Ltd

Location: Building 1, Standard Quay, Abbey Road, Faversham, Kent, ME13 7BS

Appeal Ref: APP/V2255/A/13/2202894

I refer to my previous letter regarding the above appeal. The Planning Inspectorate have now informed me that the Informal Hearing will be held on 18 December at 10.00am at the Council Offices, Swale House, East Street, Sittingbourne, Kent ME10 3HT.

An Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State will attend at the place, date and time shown above to decide the appeal.

The Council has been asked to give notice of the Informal hearing to owners and occupiers of property near the site as well as other interested parties in order that they may, if they so desire, attend the Hearing and at the inspector’s discretion state their views on the matter either in person or through an accredited representative.

If you are disabled or anyone you know who wants to go to the Hearing is disabled, please contact the Council (01795 417313 or email planningservices@swale.gov.uk), to confirm they can make proper arrangements such as parking spaces, access, seating arrangements and so on.

Documents relating to the appeal can be viewed at the Council’s offices at Development Services Reception, Swale House, East Street, Sittingbourne, by prior arrangement.

The Planning Inspectorate, should you so request, either through the Inspector at the Hearing or in any letter to them on this matter, send you a copy of the decision letter.

Yours faithfully – A J Spiers – Planning Services

 

URGENT Comments needed on application for Baltic House Wine Bar and Accommodation by tomorrow

Application Ref; SW/13/1243/[1244 for listed building consent]

Change of use from office to wine bar on ground floor and staff accommodation on first floor….

This is the start of conversion of these historic buildings into residential accommodation.

The opportunity to comment closes tomorrow Thursday 7th 5pm.

Details may be seen on; http://www.ukplanning.com/swale – you should be able to comment here but if not then Email;

planning@swale.gov.uk         Ref; SW/13/1243AJS Case 01675

Respond to SQ Restaurant Appeal by Monday 16th.

Response to grounds of appeal, proposal for restaurant on Standard Quay, Faversham; 

Case: 01675 -application SW/12/1523 – Appeal reference APP/V2255/A/13/2202894

The above reference must be quoted in the subject of the e-mail and on each attachment. Send responses by e-mail to:     TeamP1@pins.gsi.gov.uk.

Emails must reach the planning inspectorate by Monday September 16th

Or you can comment direct on the Planning Portal at;

http://www.pcs.planningportal.gov.uk/pcsportal/ViewCase.asp?caseid=2202894&coid=65544

If you want to comment on the proposal for a restaurant, with exhibition rooms upstairs, in the Black shed, then you should write your own submission but you can use the Summary below as a guide only – please do not just copy it as it is likely to be discounted. The full FCT submission will be available shortly.

With planning appeals it is important that submissions focus on the Grounds of Appeal, so the same headings have been used with the addition of Flooding and Neighbourhood Plan.

Summary

The entire appeal is predicated upon the assumption that conversion to a restaurant is the only viable use for the building and the only way to preserve its structure. This is demonstrably untrue.

Viable maritime businesses were conducted recently from the building for almost two decades. They ceased not because they were unviable, but because appellant evicted the shipwrights company, refusing to renew the lease, having spent several years attempting to get them out prior to the end of their lease.  The appellant has since made no attempt to replace them with similar activities.

The previous business had plans for expansion as it had secured additional grant funding to expand its apprenticeship scheme. The demand for such work still exists, and would provide a sustainable, viable use for the building which would be more appropriate to the building, its setting, as a group of listed buildings and the maritime heritage of the town.

There are very many buildings which are more suitable for use as restaurants, but very few sites for the type of maritime heritage work for which Standard Quay, and this building in particular, are ideally suited. This maritime use would require no damaging changes to the building or its setting within the conservation area; it would not increase traffic, parking or emergency access problems, it would not generate night-time use of the site, and it would be far more flood-resilient.

In our view the report of the Highways engineer was less than adequate, in that no traffic counts were undertaken, so therefore no environmental impact study carried out, in a conservation area with one of the finest medieval streets in the South East which narrows to single track as it joins with Standard Quay.  The engineer also based his comments on evening opening only for the restaurant which is not the case.

This proposed change of use for Building 1 in this application is totally contrary to the consensus of the public response to recent proposals illustrated at an exhibition as part of the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan process, part of the Governments Localism agenda. The response was overwhelmingly in favour of retaining Standard Quay as a maritime area for the repair and restoration of boats and as a vital element in the regeneration of this ancient Cinque Port limb, providing sustainable benefits to the local economy.  This public consensus on Standard Quay will be fed into the development of the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan now underway.

Allowing the appellant to use this building as a restaurant, art gallery and function room would prejudice the outcome of the Neighbourhood Plan and his application is premature at best.

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

SBC REJECTS RESTAURANT IN A BLACK SHED

Tonight, SBC Planning Committee unanimously rejected the planning application for the conversion of the No 1 Black Shed on Standard Quay, into a windowless restaurant and museum, with a windowed gallery upstairs.

It was described by one councillor as a Red Herring; another replied that there should be no Red Herrings served there and another concluded that eating them in a windowless restaurant would not be to their taste, even though the only things left to be seen outside would be a few parked cars.

There was a reservation about the future of the shed were it not used as a restaurant; would the recently departed maritime activities return. The answer is, of course , yes, given the right management and pricing.