Category Archives: Thames Barges

The Trust’s Regeneration Plan for the Basin in 2013

The Regeneration Plan for Faversham Creek Basin

has not really changed since 2013

Read how we saw the Bridge then

Summary

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

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

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

The key elements

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

Basin drawings 3 Ben White Nov13

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

Basin drawings 2 Ben White Nov13

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

Basin drawings 1 Ben White Nov13

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

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

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

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

The benefits

The benefits arising from the regeneration are:

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

Implementation

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

Board of Trustees, Faversham Creek Trust – 25 November 2013

Tuesday 22nd April – Traditional Vessels of Faversham Creek

A Talk by Hugh Perks

Author and Maritime Historian,

 on the 

Traditional Vessels of Faversham Creek

Tuesday 22nd March 2.30 – 4.30
Fleur Hall, behind Faversham Society in Gatefield Lane

Tea and cake too!
Also learn more about the Creek and its future, and give us your ideas?

 

The Trust’s Regeneration Plan for the Basin

Regeneration Plan for Faversham Creek Basin

Summary

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

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

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

The key elements

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

Basin drawings 3 Ben White Nov13

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

Basin drawings 2 Ben White Nov13

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

Basin drawings 1 Ben White Nov13

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

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

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

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

The benefits

The benefits arising from the regeneration are:

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

Implementation

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

Board of Trustees, Faversham Creek Trust – 25 November 2013

Trust Apprentice works on Centaur’s New Bottom

We are pleased to announce that the first job that the new apprentices will work on, will be on the 1895 Thames Sailing Barge Centaur.

The Centaur, owned and managed by the Thames Sailing Barge Trust will benefit from a £100,000 Lottery Heritage Funded refit in Tim Goldsack’s dry dock at Oare Creek. She will be worked on over the next few months by a team of local craftsmen which includes the Faversham Creek Trust’s first apprentice, Tom Browning.

Tom, achieved his level 2 apprenticeship with Simon Grillet, during the Cambria restoration at Standard Quay, in 2011. He will commence his level three training through work experience on the Centaur, combined with technical training at the Purifier Building.

The Trust  are delighted to support the Thames Barge Sailing Trust in their restoration and outreach programmes, that do so much to keep alive our local maritime traditions, and this is exactly the type of job that we want apprentices to be involved with.

Note about Centaur and the Thames Barge Sailing Trust

Centaur was built by John and Herbert Cann and launched at Gashouse Creek, Harwich on February 15th 1895 when the Thames and the Medway froze over and the temperature dropped to 30o below freezing!

A typical Essex coasting barge of 65 registered tons, she went on to an active commercial life until 1955 when she and her sister ship Mirosa (now chartered from Iron Wharf) ceased trading; she was converted to carry passengers in 1965.

In 1974 Centaur started her new life succeeding Westmoreland as the flagship of the Thames Barge Sailing Club, later to become the Thames Barge Sailing Trust, who have extensively restored her.

Centaur is now used to provide individuals with weekend voyages, and charters, and every summer she now cruises the Thames Estuary and the Essex, Suffolk and Kent rivers.

Experiencing the full pleasures and excitement of sailing on an historic vessel such as a Thames Sailing barge is not as difficult as one might imagine. The Thames Sailing Barge Trust, which owns both Pudge and Centaur, offers the opportunity to sail to various locations around the Thames Estuary and also to take part in competition with other barges in the various barge matches arranged throughout the sailing season.

The Thames Sailing Barge Trust (TSBT) was established as a club in 1948, becoming a registered charity in 2003.

The Trust, which is run entirely by volunteers, has these key aims:

1. Preserve two historic Thames barges and keep them sailing

2. Preserve and teach the skills needed to sail and maintain our barges

3. Educate the public in the history and traditions of the working sailing barge

4. Support the above by maintaining records and archives of the Club/Trust activities

By becoming a Member of the Trust you will directly contribute to the preservation of Thames Barges and the skills needed to maintain and sail them.

Visit: http://www.TSBTCharters.org to find out more

For more details visit;

http://www.shipshapenetwork.org.uk/regions.php/1/thames-estuary/projects/36/thames-sailing-barge-trust-centaur

A New Bottom for SB Centaur

SB Centaur has been awarded an HLF grant of £100,000 to rebuild her bottom. This work will be carried out at Oare by Tim Goldsack, and will involve apprentices.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QCUNfE7RDU&feature=youtu.be

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

STANDARD QUAY STORY

THE WAY IT WAS IN HISTORY

5_HISTORY S.QUAY

THE WAY IT WAS UNTIL 2011

STANDARD QUAY

THE WAY IT WAS PLANNED – AND STILL COULD BE

10_SQ VISION

THE WAY IT IS PLANNED – AS A CAR PARK

SQ Parking Drg-9609256

Standard Quay Black Shed Planning Decision Thurs 11th April

Swale Council planners will decide the fate of Standard Quay on Thursday 11 April (7pm, Council Chamber).
The Planning Officer is recommending that the application for a Restaurant, Art Gallery and Function Room in the No1 Black Shed should be approved!
If plans for a restaurant (+97 parking places) are accepted, we will lose any chance to ever reinstate the historic boatyard at the Quay.
Only one person is allowed to speak, but public support at the meeting would be much appreciated, and if you have not yet written to Swale with your views, please do so now.
The ref no is SW/12/1523 AJS Case 01675
and emails can be sent to    grahamthomas@swale.gov.uk
You can view the actual plans on www.ukplanning.com/swale
Standard Quay has been used for traditional maritime activities for centuries – not only loading and unloading vessels – but barge-building and repair, shipwrighting, rigging, sail-making, engineering, block-making, maintenance and training. All this ended very recently when the whole site was acquired by a property developer. And all this will be lost – on our watch.
Putting a restaurant and car-park into the historic maritime buildings will blight the whole site as far as barge maintenance is concerned.
Please do what you can to help preserve Faversham’s remarkable maritime heritage – by writing now.
Thank you!

A Film of Standard Quay before the Barges Went Away

Standard Quay in happier times – filmed by Simon Evans – not surprising that Justin says much the same as the previous post.

Standard Quay Faversham Simon Evans film from happier timesBarges at Faversham’s Standard Quay, filmed by local historian, folklorist, author, photographer and BBC radio  presenter Simon Evans.

Thoughts on the future of Barges at Standard Quay

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

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

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

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

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

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

28   Standard Quay AP PC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

R Telford

Policy AAP2 – Faversham Creekside

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

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

The Borough Council will expect development to:

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

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

for Standard Quay

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