Category Archives: Swale BC Planning

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

Who will hold the line?

Dear Faversham Town Council

I am writing this email to all members of Faversham Town Council to express my deep dismay and fear for the future of Faversham Creek, as proposed by the Faversham Creek Steering Group at their meeting last week. Unfortunately I cannot attend this evening’s Town Council Meeting, when the Faversham Creek Steering Group’s proposals will be discussed, as I must be elsewhere. However, I hope that you will take the views expressed in this email into account.

For three decades Swale Borough Council has held the line for Faversham against excessive housing development along the Creek. They have not always been successful, and their efforts have been overturned on appeal with seriously detrimental results, but at least they have tried. In the most recent adopted Local Plan of 2008, Swale still maintained that there should be no more housing development along the Creek, not least due to flood risk.

When Faversham Town Council was given responsibility for producing a Creek Neighbourhood Plan, under the Localism Bill, many Faversham residents had high hopes that FTC would be able to follow the clear line taken for so long by SBC, evidently approved of by many electors, by continuing to resist the pressure for unsuitable development and by promoting sustainable uses for many of the properties along the Creek. This seemed like our chance at last to achieve a future for Faversham which reflected our maritime heritage and our aspirations for sustainable development.

Unfortunately it appears to many of us that the Faversham Creek Steering Group capitulated to the wishes of the developers from the very beginning. The membership of the Group was drawn largely from the Faversham Creek Consortium, first established by Swale Borough Council in late 2005. Representatives on the Consortium and the Group included people who, we thought, had the best interests of the town at heart, for example the Faversham Society and Faversham Municipal Charities.

However, over eight years the Consortium gradually lost the trust of many Faversham people – as anyone who attended the AGMs could see and hear. From early on the Consortium seemed to favour housing development over all other possible uses of the land, and this preference was carried over into the Steering Group. It is no wonder that there are suspicions, clearly voiced at last Tuesday’s meeting, that not all members of the Creek Steering Group are entirely unbiased.

The various options presented by the Steering Group at the June exhibition claimed to represent a selection of alternatives, yet the proposals for each site were not different from each other at all, but were all remarkably similar. All showed ‘mixed use’ of housing and ‘employment’, so that ‘employment’ use could be positioned on the ground floor where the flood risk exists, and the housing then had to be built to a high elevation to pay for the significant amount of piling required and the cost of providing ‘employment’ use on the ground floor. The views of the community that had been expressed at the previous consultation were ignored, and the views expressed following this ‘consultation’ were overruled.

My understanding of the proposals presented at the June 2013 consultation, from discussions with Steering Group representatives in attendance, was that the drawings were developed by the Steering Group itself. Yet when requests were made at last Tuesday’s meeting for the Steering Group to explain exactly what was meant by ‘viable’ use of land, and for an alternative proposal of a Community Boatyard on Ordnance Wharf, the request was thrown back at the Faversham Creek Trust to present a proposal. This was in spite of the fact that they have only recently been invited to join the Steering Group, they probably have little of the information available to the Steering Group, and they were excluded from the discussion of Ordnance Wharf as having ‘an interest’. Surely the Steering Group itself should have – and still should – researched and proposed alternative uses for each site, not just bowed down to the developers’ desire for profit through housing.

The views of local residents have been strongly expressed against housing on both Ordnance Wharf and Swan Quay. Ordnance Wharf represents a real opportunity to bring the Basin back into active use, as a destination for local people and tourists, for waterside activities and employment such as a community boatyard. Swan Quay, too, is a very historic and highly important site for the town, yet the only proposals presented by and to the Steering Group are for completely inappropriate blocks of flats.

This month there have been normal spring tides which have risen within a foot of the edge of Swan Quay and which have flooded Town Quay. How much piling would be necessary to make Swan Quay able to support the proposed blocks of flats? Look at the piling that took place along Provender Walk, Waterside Close and Faversham Reach. Is that what the Council wants to happen at Swan Quay? It was stated at last Tuesday’s meeting that the Environment Agency has declared that a flood barrier would be required before development of this site. What would that mean to the historic quay? The area proposed for development is quite small. How much do you want to see the existing historic buildings like the Old Chandlery, the Boxing Club and TS Hasard dwarfed by three large blocks? What view do you want from the Front Brents? Where would the residents of these flats park their cars? Swan Quay has the only slipway along the length of the Creek. Surely it would be more appropriate to continue the existing, viable business of sail making and maritime trades in this place and put housing elsewhere.

The case for continued maritime use of Standard Quay has been eloquently expressed by others on many occasions. I concur fully with the opinion that Building No. 1 and others along the Creek side should revert to their previous use for repairing and restoring historic and other vessels.

Portsmouth has just been granted £4m by the Heritage Lottery Fund to develop the old dockyard for businesses and apprenticeships for the repair and restoration of historic vessels, with media attention focusing on the imminent loss of these skills if action is not immediately taken. While Faversham could not expect such largesse, surely it is not beyond the imagination of the Steering Group and FTC to consider applying for funding to help with developing our historic waterfront in order to benefit and enrich future generations, not just a few property speculators?

Finally, if the battle to retain at least parts of the Creek is lost to the developers, how on earth can Faversham Town Council expect Swale Borough Council to continue to hold the line on other limits to the development of the town, such as ‘South of the A2’? If we cannot protect our own interests, why should we expect our Borough Council to protect them?

I hope that Faversham Town Council will draw back from these potentially devastating proposals before it is too late. Perhaps it is time to review the long-standing membership of the Steering Group, not just add a few ‘lone voices in the wilderness’ to the entrenched views of the members. Please look at the Creek again, please start the review all over again if necessary. Whatever the cost, it will be small beer compared with the total loss to future generations that is at risk if the current proposals are carried through.

Sue Akhurst

Have your say on the Swale Local Plan

The Swale Borough Local Plan, originally called Bearing Fruits, was rejected because there were insufficient housing numbers to equate with the Councils’ aspirations for job creation in the Borough.

It s now available for comments until 5pm Monday September 30th, and we urge you to look at it in relation to Faversham and the Creek. The Creek Neighbourhood Plan will become a part of the Swale Plan when it is completed and voted in at referendum, now Autumn 2014.

There will be an exhibition at Faversham West Community Centre from Tuesday 24September till 2pm on Friday 27th.

Key points to look at regarding the Creek are:

  •  Whilst it states that the Neighbourhood Plan will be the ultimate decider on housing,  the Council is standing by its original numbers of 102 creekside units (a reminder that 40 are behind BM Weston so the 62 are key).
  • Western link site is proposed to change from mixed use to housing only.  Ergo more housing units overall in Faversham, so why the need for more housing on the creek.
  • It proposes that Oare creek site as preferred option for housing development (instead of the Love Lane site in previous plan).

See the draft plan at;  http://swale-consult.limehouse.co.uk/portal

SBC say that if you used it last time then your details are still in the system, making it easier to make comments this time.

Or you can write to;

Spatial Planning Manager,  SBC,  Swale House, East Street, S’bourne, ME10 3HT

or by Email to;   bearingfruits@swale.gov.uk

All documents and links can be found at;

http://www.swale.gov.uk/bearing-fruits-2031-the-draft-local-plan/

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

Boatbuilding Skills in Faversham Recognised

Alan Staley, Boatbuilder at Chambers Wharf, recently won the Craft Skills Award for ‘Encouraging Craft Skills in the Workplace.

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 simply 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.

Chambers Wharf is Alan Staley Boatbuilder, with a slip and moorings for small to medium sized craft, and a history of successful projects.; more on that later.

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

Swan Quay has been the home of the Sail Maker, Wilkinson Sails for several years, where they have trained 2 young sailmakers,.

Faversham Creek Trust is developing a maritime Craft Centre at the Purifier, with a specific mandate to develop the training of  Apprentices Shipwrights, starting in August.

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

And yet, some commentators have recently argued that there was a lack of maritime businesses rushing to take up the available spaces on the Creek, and that therefore the only viable way forward is for these spaces to be given over to speculators and developers of upmarket exclusive housing, or to converting simple sheds in to bijou restaurants, or worse, museums of past maritime glory for the titilation of tourists.

Wrong; 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 what hubs are all about.

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 reviving; 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, and ask for their support for the future of the Creek as a thriving busy waterway, with relevant businesses, and community areas.

As Arthur reminds us, Henry Hatch gave his fortune to the benefit of the Town and Creek; we must make sure that we can build on that legacy.

R. Telford

Arthur Percival: its a Creek Not a Street

Dear Jackie
Thank you again for letting me have print-outs of the panels which were on display at the recent Neighbourhood Plan exhibition at the Alexander Centre.   I could not possibly have commented on these in a properly informed fashion without having them all to hand.   In this respect I may not be alone.   There is no substitute for the coherence of what in fact are pages from a book.
Perhaps you will be kind enough to refer the following response to the Group and invite its members to give them due consideration?   I will also let you have them in the form of a letter.   An acknowledgement would be valued.
I don’t propose to comment on the panels in detail.   This I am afraid is because I feel the thinking behind them is fundamentally flawed.
It grieves me to say this, because clearly the Steering Group has given a lot of thought to its brief, and invested a significant amount of public money in developing its vision of the future of the Creek’s riparian areas, or at least those that it considers are ripe for ‘regeneration’ (though this is not a term I myself would use for some of the developments envisaged).
The fundamental flaw which has clearly informed the Group’s thinking is that it has chosen to regard the Creek as a street, like one in suburban London, perhaps, alongside which there are plots with potential for housing development.
However the Creek is not a street.   It is a highway to the sea, and to the world beyond our island.   It has served as such for centuries, since Roman and probably also pre-Roman times.
In this Kingdom there are hundreds of thousands of urban streets, many no doubt with frontages with potential for redevelopment.   There are far fewer navigable waterways, like the Creek, with access to the sea and the world beyond.
These represent a precious, irreplaceable asset which deserve to be treated with all the care we can lavish on them.    You can’t berth vessels, or build or maintain them, alongside urban streets.
If there are any vacant Creekside sites, or ones that might be suitable for development, the Steering Group would be better advised to look for development which would serve maritime rather than residential purposes. 
Also, given that the Faversham area has lost many employment opportunities in recent years, it would be better advised look for developments which would replace some of the many which it has lost.
Though it may not have been intentional, the exhibition could have given the very misleading impression that the only potential use for the sites identified (rightly or wrongly) as needing ‘regeneration’ was for the building of new dwellings. 
These would not generate much-needed new local employment opportunities, only make Faversham more of a dormitory town than it is already.
This would be inherently undesirable because of all the extra travel involved, of increased strain on local public transport facilities, and of excessive and unnecessary use of fossil fuels.
The Steering Group may of course have been misled by Swale Borough Council’s Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA), which identified some of the Creek’s riparian areas as having potential for the provision of 100 new dwellings.   So indeed it did, but such identification did not carry with it any commitment to grant of planning permission.
Equally the Group may have taken into account that if any appropriate planning permissions were given developers would be liable to Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).
It’s unclear what this would yield.   To take a cockshy based on the old section 106 contributions which developers had to pay, the maximum yield might in the region of £7,000 per new dwelling.   Of this, subject to the approval of a Neighbourhood Plan, the town of Faversham might get £1,750 per unit, the rest going to Swale Borough Council.
If all 100 dwellings were built alongside the Creek, the yield would be £175,000 at most.   In relation to the loss of sites which could be used for maritime uses this is a paltry sum.
There is every indication that if the Creek were regarded as a highway to the sea and not as a suburban street with potential for residential development the potential of its riparian areas for maritime uses is substantial.
Interest in, and use of, traditional vessels in increasing whilst at the same time the number of moorings and ‘service areas’ in and around the Thames Estuary is declining.   This presents an outstanding opportunity for the Creek to offer berths, and services, no longer available elsewhere.
Such provision would increase opportunities for skilled employment, and much-needed apprenticeships in appropriate skills.   Indeed Faversham Creek could become a Mecca both for owners of traditional vessels, and for the crafts required for their maintenance.
Given that the general public are fascinated by these vessels, and that many of them are of charm, or beauty, or both, their presence, and that of supporting craft skills, would substantially reinforce the town’s already significant visitor offer, benefitting its economy, and particularly its shops, pubs and eating-places.
To my surprise, the exhibition failed to put the Creek in its geographical and historical context.   Consideration and evaluation of this should surely be the very starting-point for the Neighhourhood Plan.
You can’t possibly plan properly for the future without full understanding of the physical character and the past (including the recent past) of the area concerned.    What thought the Steering Group has given to this I’m afraid isn’t at all clear.   Little, I am tempted to think.
The Creek of course is inseparable from the town.   Indeed Faversham would not exist but for the Creek.   For centuries it was its lifeblood.   It bred hardy seamen, fit for service in the Cinque Ports fleet, fit to save the nation from invasions which would have altered its destiny for ever and for the worse.
It generated much of its wealth, and this is reflected today by the number of 16th and 17th century merchant houses which remain in the town centre and are a vital feature of its charm and distinctive character.
So even physically the town cannot be divorced from the Creek.   Some of the merchants left bequests to the town, most notably Henry Hatch, who left it his whole fortune with astute directions as to how it was to be spent – a significant proportion on the Creek itself and its road accesses.   ‘Here I’ve made my money,’ he told a friend, ‘and here I intend to leave it.’
Unfortunately this kind of public-spirited personal generosity seems to be in small supply these days.   However the pulling-power of the town’s community remains strong, and if through the Steering Group it put its mind to the Renaissance of the Creek for maritime purposes, and not for sterile housing development, it could only improve the town’s economy and standing.
Best wishes
Arthur

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).