Category Archives: Vanguard Project

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:

http://favershamcreektrust.us2.list-manage2.com/track/click?u=2c99a8cc80d59b8ac0435b826&id=4fee3b0e04&e=91931253db

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

http://favershamcreektrust.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=2c99a8cc80d59b8ac0435b826&id=e8c70cf65a&e=91931253db

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.

Email:   planningpolicy@swale.gov.uk

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.

The Truth about the NPPF

A STATEMENT FROM THE FAVERSHAM CREEK TRUST AND THE BRENTS COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION

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.

DELIVERABILITY

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.)

WHAT THE NPPF SAYS

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.

VIABILITY

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.

LANDOWNER AGREEMENT

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.

PLAN PERIOD

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.

MISINFORMATION?

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.

 

Good Reason to go to the Council Meeting Monday 7th

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

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

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

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

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

The Reconvened Town Council Meeting is now Monday 28th 7pm at the Alexander Centre

The re-convened Town Council meeting to discuss the Land Uses recommendations by the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group is set as below.

The Alexander Centre will accommodate 250 people; this is your opportunity, again, to show your interest in this issue.

You will notice that the Mayor will allow 30 minutes for registered electors to put questions to the council, before the meeting begins.

FTC mtg FCNPSG 28oct

FTC mtg FCNPSG 28oct

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

Thankyou David Simmons for upholding democracy

Over 80 members of the public arrived last night at the Guildhall, to hear the debate on agenda item 6; the minutes of the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group meeting held last week, and specifically to approve the Land Uses for Sites and Streetscape Requirements document.

Before the meeting could start it was announced that the number of people upstairs in the Guildhall is limited to 50 by the Fire Regulations. Recognising that democracy would not be served by throwing out half the public, the Mayor offered the option of holding a special meeting at a larger venue, probably the Alexander Centre, at the earliest date possible.This was accepted, and agreed by the councillors. So wait for a further announcement for the that event.

Thankyou David, for resolving a difficult situation.

Reproduced below is a letter that our Chairman, Chris Wright, sent to the Mayor before the meeting ;

Dear Councillor Simmons,

FAVERSHAM CREEK NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN

We understand that the proposals set out in the document ‘Land uses for sites and streetscape requirements’ are to be put to the Town Council for approval on Monday 21 October.

A key aim of the Creek Neighbourhood Plan is to stimulate regeneration of the area.  The Council will be aware that at present, there is one major project already contributing to the regeneration process.  It is one to which 500 townspeople have given their support, and it is based on the Purifier building at the head of the creek.  But the proposals contained in the ‘Land uses’ document, particularly as they relate to Ordnance Wharf, rather than supporting this process will damage it.

The document addresses a number of sites around the creek at present designated as industrial in land use planning terms.  On the grounds that commercial uses are ‘not viable’ or ‘not deliverable’ it recommends re-designating them as residential.  By doing this, it drives up land prices and excludes other uses.  It is a self-fulfilling argument.

For pedestrians, housing on the creek waterfront is sterile, characterless, and not much fun to walk around.  It contributes nothing to the sense of place that makes Faversham unique.  A bolder plan could generate sustainable income from tourism and marine craft, building on the Town’s historical role as a Cinque Port Limb.

The proposals are strongly opposed by local residents and are likely to fail when put to referendum next year.  If people are consulted, they expect their views to be taken into account, not ignored.  Finally, it is a stated goal of the Steering Group that all riparian owners of the sites concerned be consulted as part of the planning process.  No such consultation has yet taken place with the Faversham Creek Trust.  We therefore ask the Town Council to refer the document back for further discussion and amendment.

Yours sincerely,  Professor Chris Wright, Chairman

GO TO FAVERSHAM TOWN COUNCIL TOMORROW

The Steering Group’s Land Use Recommendations will be offered for approval at the Town Council meeting on Monday (21 October).  7pm at the Guildhall.

Once again, we need strong support from the public. If YOU can come along, please do. THIS MATTERS.

Read the document here;

Land uses for sites and streetscape requirements

The Exclusive Creekside Housing Development Bandwagon just keeps rolling along, presumably hoping that if they keep going, any opposition will be worn down and melt away, from fatigue or despair.

Do not despair, your presence in numbers is what consistently tells the Steering Group & Town Council that at the end, this Plan may not pass Inspection, let alone a Referendum.

Remember the exhibition in June, and the artist’s impressions of so called ideas for discussion; BLOCKS OF RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT, well, that is  what has gone forward as the basis of the Plan, TOTALLY IGNORING THE PUBLIC REJECTION, ON THE GROUNDS THAT OTHER PROPOSALS, SUCH AS THIS TRUST’S, ARE NOT VIABLE.

WE REMIND YOU THAT A RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT ON ORDNANCE WHARF IS ALMOST CERTAINLY THE DEATH KNELL FOR ANY WORKSHOP ACTIVITIES AT THE PURIFIER BUILDING, BECAUSE ANY NOISE CREATED NEAR A RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT ALWAYS LEADS TO COMPLAINT AND EVENTUALLY CLOSURE OF THE INDUSTRIAL USE – EVIDENCE ABOUNDS; FRANK & WHITTOME FOR EXAMPLE.

Which is also why the idea of residential units above workshops anywhere, is generally a non starter; which means that mixed use – Industrial and Residential – is really a myth; it actually means Residential.

And it isn’t as if there was such a desperate need; the available and potential sites around Faversham will supply many more houses, of all types, including affordable, than is needed to satisfy the foreseeable housing requirement.

Creek Plan Steering Group meets Tues. 15th

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Faversham Town Council visits the Purifier

Monday night, Town Councillors and members of the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group, and the Mayor, David Simmons, accompanied by the Town Clerk, Jackie Westlake, took up the invitation to visit the Purifier building to see our progress and hear about our plans and hopes for the future.IMG_0557

Chris Wright, Simon Foster, Hilary Whelan and Griselda Mussett gave brief descriptions of our history and progress, the plans for developing a training scheme for apprentice shipwrights, the Trust’s view of the economics of the Creek and Tourism, and the membership and volunteering effort.

IMG_0565

There was a robust question and answer session at the end.
ImageImage 7

Other guests were Councillors Cosgrove, Henderson, Abram, Campbell, Davis, Payne, Coulter, and Leader and Deputy Mayor, Nigel Kay, who is also Chairman of the Steering Group; Ann Salmon and Andrew Osborne attended as members of the Steering Group.

The guests were given a pack of information, which will be published on this site seperately. Also Ray Harrison displayed his Swan Quay character appraisal, a substantial investigation running to more than 60 pages, fully illustrated, suggesting a way forward to the future for Swan Quay.

David Simmons thanked the Trust for the presentations and some guests were given a tour of the building.

Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group Mtg Thursday 15th

The Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group meets this Thursday 15th in the Guildhall at 7pm.

The meeting is open to the public although it is uncertain whether there will be an opportunity to speak. As yet, there has been no decision as to who the additional members  of the group are, but a decision may be taken at this meeting; it was hoped that two representatives from the Trust would be invited.  Also, there may be a progress report on the feedback from the exhibition in June.

Agenda items include Action for Market Towns, Next Steps, Undesignated Heritage Assets, and Budget.