Category Archives: Swale BC Planning

SWAN QUAY Judicial Review Decision

We are very pleased to pass on the news that we have just received. Today the decision of the Judicial Review into Swan Quay was announced, and Mr Justice Dove dismissed the case of the applicant.
The judgement enables Swale Borough Council to take the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan to referendum, with no housing on Swan Quay. If the people of Faversham vote to accept the referendum, Swale Borough Council will release their contribution of £200,000 towards the new Swing Bridge, and the Swing Bridge construction will be able to go ahead.
The full judgement is shown below.

“London’s High Court ruled today on the planning future of the historic Swan Quay at Faversham.

Mr Justice Dove, one of the country’s top judges, dismissed a challenge by developers to a planning inspector’s ruling which blocked residential development at the creek.

The inspector’s decision came after leading conservation group, Historic England and local campaigners argued that residential development would lead to “gentrification” of the area, be “harmful to the historic character of Faversham Creek” and hit small business owners locally.

Swan Quay LLP’s lawyers argued that the inspector was not entitled to take the stance he did in a bid to protect the area from “gentrification” through residential redevelopment.

The inspector had been called in to approve the development plan for the area. He approved it but sided with the conservationists and wrote in the ban on residential development.

The plan had been due to go to a public referendum in October, but the action taken by the land owners has thrown the referendum timetable into disarray.

Swan Quay had argued when the case was heard earlier this month that a neighbourhood development plan expressly banning residential development on the site was unlawful.

However, Mr Justice Dove ruled today that the inspector had explained his reasons for imposing the ban, and held that the inspector’s decision had been a clear exercise of “planning judgment”.

He refused Swan Quay’s request for the ban on residential development to be removed from the development plan before it goes to a local referendum.

The judge said that the inspector had “fully explained” his reasons, which included concerns about potential loss of employment land at Swan Quay and increased residential development being “harmful to the historic character of the Creek”.

He said that while the term “gentrification” was not an official planning use term, it did not need to be. The inspector could take into account its meaning as “erosion” of traditional uses by the introduction of “historically unprecedented and inconsistent use that would bring with it a different aesthetic which would harm the historic character”.

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.”


Our Response to the Swale Plan Consultation

Bearing Fruits – Faversham Creek Trust Representation PDF

Here are some extracted paragraphs….…….

As there is much in this Plan that was not included in the previous consultation version, we wish to make comments beyond the limitations specified for this stage of the consultation, and outside the strictures of the consultation portal.

The section of the plan which we are most concerned about is 6.8.8 and following, The Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan (FCNP). In its earlier consultation version in 2012, Bearing Fruits contained only a short reference to the then unwritten FCNP, and therefore this is the first opportunity to comment on this part of Bearing Fruits 2031.

We would like to remind you of the display box in Section 2, Taking a Journey Through Swale, entitled What’s in a Crest? Most of the nine points are relevant to Faversham, but two have a specific relevance to the importance of Faversham Creek:

Waves to signify ports, boat building and ancillary trades and, of course, The Swale.

Red lion/blue ship shows Faversham’s link to the Cinque Ports.

The FCNP seriously fails to address the importance of these specific points to the future of Faversham. 

Statement 7 – Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan Vision

The Plan as it stands cannot deliver this vision, as it does nothing for the regeneration of the town; it focuses almost entirely on housing, with very little said about developing business, maritime or tourism uses.

6.8.10 – This paragraph relates to flood risk. Paragraph 4.3.100 also comments on the “challenge of climate change, flooding and coastal change … Around the developed areas of Faversham Creek, a flexible response to the issue of flood risk will be necessary to enable regeneration to take place.”

Firstly, the Faversham Creek Trust is horrified by the phrase “flexible response to the issue of flood risk”………….

The FCNP does not comply with Policy NP1 in the following ways.

It does not comply with the first sentencepriority will be given to the regeneration of Faversham Creek by retaining maritime activities (including the retention and improvement of wharves and moorings, including for large craft)”. We fully support this policy, and would like to see much greater focus given to it within FCNP.

It does not specify thecomplementary redevelopment opportunities for workshops/ business uses”. Although some mention is made of these, there is nothing specific in it which enables the FCNP to comply with this sentence.

Policy 2 – it does notprovide for the restoration of and enhancement of the settings of listed and other important historic buildings”. In fact, it recommends the removal of at least one important historic building on Swan Quay, and the proposed density and size of development on this small site would do nothing to enhance the settings of the listed and important buildings on Swan Quay and Town Quay.

Policy 3 – It does little to protect open space and nature conservation interests…………..


The letter from English Heritage in response to the recent consultation on the FCNP makes clear the wide gulf between what could be done for the Creek area, and what the FCNP proposes should be done. This letter should alert SBC to the fact that very few statutory consultees responded to the earlier consultation stage of the FCNP, in May – June 2014. The reason given by English Heritage for their late response was that they had no record of receiving an invitation to respond to the previous consultation. It is quite possible that other statutory consultees also have no record of their invitation, perhaps because it was not sent to the appropriate person within the organisation. We believe that SBC should re-consult those organisations who have not responded, taking care to discover the correct person to approach.

In view of the responses which have been forthcoming for each stage of the consultation of the FCNP, and in particular the one from English Heritage, we feel there is a considerable risk that the FCNP will not be approved as it stands by the Independent Examiner. Even if it is passed to go to referendum, there is doubt whether it would pass a referendum.

In the event that the FCNP is not approved, what contingency plan does SBC have? Will Policy NP1 be used to determine planning applications, and what power will it provide SBC Planners to “retain maritime activities (including the retention and improvement of wharves and moorings, including for larger craft)”? Will the policy AAP2, which we understand is a “saved” policy, be relevant still? Will the policies outlined elsewhere in this plan be extended to cover the Creek area? There are many discrepancies between Policy NP1 and the FCNP as it now stands.

The Faversham Creek Trust would like to re-state that it supports Bearing Fruits 2031 in general, with the caveat that we endorse all the comments made by the Brents Community Association in their submission. However, we have grave concerns about the section of the Plan relating to the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan, which we regard as a seriously flawed document, which does not represent the wishes and views of a significant number of people in Faversham. Many of them took the time to attend our Exhibition “Making the Creek Work for Faversham”, which we ran concurrently with the Faversham Town Council statutory consultation in May and June 2014. Over 840 people attended and over 460 completed our questionnaire.

We believe that this part of the Bearing Fruits 2031 is, in many ways, an improvement on the FCNP as it appears to place greater importance on maritime activities, but it may be ineffective in implementation terms without the FCNP, and SBC Planners may find it difficult to deal with planning applications if the FCNP is not ratified.

Swale Local Plan Consultation ends Friday

There are references to Faversham and the Creek throughout the Swale Local Plan, but this is the wording of the main section relating to the Creek and the Neighbourhood Plan. The deadline for comments on the Local Plan is 5pm on Friday 30 January 2015.

Comments should be made to;

or directly at;

The Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan

6.8.8 The Faversham Creek area is part of the town’s extensive conservation area and contains a number of historic buildings, together with traditional marine related activities and a series of green spaces. All contribute to the character of the area and represent an important asset to the town.

6.8.9 The Creek is operating under a number of complex constraints. Navigation is restricted in parts by a loss of depth and width to the channel and there is no longer safe navigation for large craft in its Basin due to silting. Navigation into the Basin is also restricted by a defective swing bridge at Bridge Road. Navigation could also be improved by dredging, but in addition to its costs, there are likely to be limitations imposed on large scale industrial dredging of the Creek by the Swale Special Protection Area (SPA).

6.8.10 Flood risk, particularly in relation to the re-use of previously developed land within the 1:20 year flood zone of Faversham Creek, must be carefully assessed and managed, whilst a number of these sites are likely to be contaminated and require some remediation work. A further issue is that the attractive waterside environment of the creekside area has not had the same investment to improve the quality of its environment as the town centre. There are also a number of historic buildings needing restoration.

6.8.11 For these reasons, the regeneration of Faversham Creek, whilst protecting the rich maritime, industrial and landscape heritage for economic, environmental and educational purposes, is the principal objective. This has been strongly supported by local consultation.(6.4)* This analysis indicates that the Neighbourhood Plan should seek to regenerate Faversham Creek by focusing on: clusters of heritage assets and marine-related activities with regeneration potential; navigation improvements to the Creek through a combination of sluicing and smaller scale injection dredging; protecting and enhancing important green spaces and upgrading the public realm within the area; and maximising pedestrian links between the Creek and the town, along the creekside and to wider countryside routes.

*6.4 is: “Stakeholder Consultation and Options Report 2009. Urban Initiatives for SBC and Developing proposals and future planning policy options to deliver regeneration of the Creek area 2010. Tony Fullwood Associates for SBC.”

Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan Vision

The Creek at the heart of Faversham. Faversham Creek is leading the regeneration of the town; a place where we can celebrate its rich history and attractive appearance; a place where we enjoy spending time, both on and off the water; a place where boats, residents and visitors want to be. A place where developments integrate the needs of people and nature and where its distinctive character and identity is rooted in its traditional industries and enriched by new businesses.
[Note: This differs from the wording of the Vision in the latest version of the Neighbourhood Plan, which was changed in response to landowner comments.]

Land allocations for new development

6.8.12 Within the areas of heritage/marine-related activity adjoining the Creek, listed and other historic buildings and maritime uses, wharves and moorings important to the character of the Creek should be retained and, where necessary, restored alongside complementary redevelopment opportunities. Given the location of these areas within the functional floodplain, and the historic association with the Creek, workshops/business uses, facilities for moored boats (e.g. showers/toilets) and small scale retail and restaurant uses would be best able to address these issues and improve the visitor attraction to the area.(6.5) Dependent on design, amenity and flood risk considerations, residential development could be permitted above ground floor level to assist with the viability of mixed use schemes and to provide activity throughout the day and evening. On some sites, mixed-use development would be unsuitable and on these sites 100% residential development would be acceptable. New buildings should be of a sensitive design with their scale and context respecting the setting of the listed building and the adjoining creekside buildings.

6.8.13 A Faversham Creek Streetscape Strategy has been prepared and adopted by the Swale Joint Transport Board which seeks to extend town centre streetscape enhancements to the creekside area. The principal aim of the strategy is that improvements in the public realm around Faversham Creek should respond to and enhance the character and distinctiveness of the creekside area. The Strategy outlines the guiding principles regarding the improvements to the streetscape of the creekside area and establishes guidelines for the design of specific items in the overall streetscape. The Strategy also sets out guidance for creek streetscape enhancements for discrete areas of the creekside. The priorities for implementation will be set through the Neighbourhood Plan process.
[Note: In the pre-submission consultation, it was suggested by landowners that the Streetscape Strategy should carry less weight, as it has not been independently examined. This was accepted by the consultants and the wording was amended so that development should merely “have regard to” the strategy.]

6.8.14 The Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan will detail its strategy, guided by Policy NP1. It will include the allocation of specific sites and levels of development, the parameters for development as well as proposals for the improvement to accessibility and the public realm. Proposals will be delivered through the granting of consents and the implementation of improvements set out in the Neighbourhood Plan. Whilst Policy ST4 has indicated a level of new housing as arising from the Neighbourhood Plan area, this is soley [sic] for the purposes of demonstrating its potential contribution to the overall supply of housing in the Borough. It will be for the Neighbourhood Plan process to determine locally the final levels of employment, housing and other uses that will come forward.

Policy NP 1
Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan
Within the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan area, as shown on the Proposals Map, priority will be given to the regeneration of Faversham Creek by retaining maritime activities (including the retention and improvement of wharfs and moorings, including for large craft) with complementary redevelopment opportunities for workshops/business uses, residential, small scale retail and restaurant uses. Where relevant, development of the area will:

Accord with the Neighbourhood Plan (once it has taken effect);
Provide for the restoration of and enhancement to the settings of listed and other important historic buildings;
The protection of open space and nature conservation interests and upgrading of the public realm;
Navigation improvements to the Creek (subject to appropriate mitigation of the impacts on the adjacent International Designations and the Shellfish Waters);
The provision of a publicly accessible creekside walkway;
High quality designs which respect their context;
Proposals which are acceptable in terms of flood risk; and
The remediation of contaminated sites.

Neighbourhood Plan Consultation Ends Monday 22nd

The Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan is in its final stage of Statutory Consultation before being presented to the Independent Examiner.

The consultation ends at 5 p.m. on Monday, 22 December 2014.

You can read the Submission Plan, Consultation Statement and Basic Condition Statement online through Swale Borough Council’s Website:

Faversham Creek Trust and the Brents Community Association are jointly submitting a detailed document, which you can read here:

We are not opposed to a Neighbourhood Plan for this area. We have always tried to work with the statutory bodies to achieve a plan that will truly benefit the Creek and the town, and will have the support of the community. We fear that the Plan that has been submitted would not deliver the kind of regeneration of the Creek that our members and many other members of the community have said they would like to see.

Our response addresses many procedural and statutory deficiencies in the way that the plan has been compiled. A major defect is that the opinions and constructive suggestions from members of our two organisations and many other people in the community have been largely ignored. The Basic Conditions Statement which accompanies the Plan claims ‘That the plan has broad local support from the residents, notwithstanding specific objections to certain aspects.’ Yet in the official consultation, under 30% of respondents said that they agreed with the plan as it stands.

The points under contention have not been changed. If you were one of the 70% who said they did not agree with the plan, now is the time to tell them again that you disagree.

For example, on Ordnance Wharf, the Consultation Statement says there was ‘overwhelming support for Option B’ (non-residential use). Yet the Submission Plan allows residential use on this site. People’s strong views on other sites, particularly Swan Quay and Standard Quay, have also been ignored.

Please either send your own comments on this Submission Plan, and/or endorse our document (the link is above) if you agree with the points that we make.


or write to the Planning Policy Manager at Swale Borough Council.

Your comments must be received by Monday, 22 December at 5 p.m.

Thank you for your support.

Tuesday’s Neighbourhood Plan Public Meeting at QE School

The venue for the NP meeting is now at the QE School.

The following revised documents are available for review, and will be discussed at that meeting.

7 October 2014 Agenda





The Truth about the NPPF


In a letter to the Faversham News about the Neighbourhood Plan (June 12), steering group chairman Nigel Kay complained that people were given misleading information about what is possible and what is not.

Unfortunately, the information he himself provided was misleading.


Before it is allowed to go to a referendum, the Plan will have to be approved by an independent examiner. Mr Kay says that alternative proposals cannot be considered by the steering group without business plans and financial information, because theses will be required by the examiner as evidence that the Plan is deliverable.

This is not correct. A study of successful neighbourhood plans shows that examiners do not ask for such evidence, nor are they entitled to do so. “The legislation does not permit me to examine the soundness or quality of the plan,” says one of them. (And if Mr Kay truly believes that such evidence is necessary, why has he not demanded it for all the “official” proposals? There is much less information on those in the public domain than there is on alternative options.)


This is how the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), paragraph 173, explains deliverability: “The sites and the scale of development identified in the plan should not be subject to such a scale of obligations and policy burdens that their ability to be delivered viably is threatened.”

So, for example, a plan may have policies on affordable housing quotas, or sustainable building standards, or financial contributions that developers have to pay: if these are too demanding, it could be deemed undeliverable.


There is a distinction between:

(a) viability in the context of MAKING a plan, which is what concerns us now. This applies to the plan as a whole rather than individual sites: in principle, the policies should not hinder the kind of development that would be needed to achieve the desired outcome – eg, by imposing conditions that would make development so difficult or expensive that it would be unlikely to happen), and

(b) viability in the context of USING a plan, which is what happens when a specific planning application is made for a particular site: in practice, if the development is in general accordance with the plan but policy conditions make it impossible for a “reasonable” landowner/developer to make a fair return by current market standards, those conditions may be relaxed – for example, developers may be allowed a lower proportion of affordable housing than is laid down in the plan.


Independent examiners of Neighbourhood Plans do not demand agreement from each individual landowner. Some neighbourhood plans have barely consulted landowners at all; the examiner of the plan for Thame (Oxfordshire) points out that there is no statutory requirement to do so. Some plans that were actively opposed by landowners and developers have nevertheless succeeded at examination – and, in the case of Tattenhall (Cheshire), at a subsequent judicial inquiry.

Examiners have accepted that delivery may involve future negotiations with landowners during the lifetime of the plan. For example, the plan for Kirdford (West Sussex) has a 15-year table showing timescales and priorities and what actions will be needed at various stages, including landowner negotiations.


The Faversham Creek plan has no such sense of timescale. The staging of delivery has never been discussed. It doesn’t even say what period it’s meant to cover, though this is a legal requirement (section 38B of the 2004 Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act) and examiners can get quite stroppy if it’s left out.

Without timescales it’s impossible to judge feasibility. Something that might be not be achievable in five years may well be achievable in ten or fifteen.


Mr Kay and some other members of the steering group frequently assert that those proposing alternative ideas for the Creek are an unrepresentative and ill-informed minority who do not understand the realities of neighbourhood planning.

In fact, these alternative ideas are in line with the majority views expressed at public consultations, and their proponents have done a great deal of research into the rules and regulations, and to what is happening in practice with neighbourhood plans elsewhere (there are lots of them in progress and, at the time of writing, 17 have succeeded at referendum).

The Faversham Creek Trust’s steering group representative took the trouble to attend a three-day planning camp to understand more about the process – how many other steering group members have shown such commitment? Others have studied successful plans and their examiners’ reports to see what can be learned from them. They are all different, but there are common themes.

One thing examiners consistently look for is evidence that there has been open and meaningful community engagement and properly considered responses to consultation feedback.

It will be interesting to see their reaction to the Faversham Creek Plan.


Neighbourhood Plan Public Consultation – 19th May – 30th June 2014

The consultation on the pre-submission draft of the Town Council’s Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan starts today (19 May) and runs for six weeks until 30 June.

The plan, with details of consultation events and how to respond, can be found here.

It is vital to the future of the Creek that everyone makes the effort to look at the proposals and complete the Survey. This is the last chance to affect the outcome of the Neighbourhood Plan.