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Category Archives: Neighbourhood Plan
The first item was the re-election of the committee and a new member standing as a replacement for our Chris Wright, who stood down due to his appointment as our new Chairman. His replacement is Bob Telford.
Jeremy Lamb reported on the work of the Consortium and its future priorities, and Anne Salmon reported on the progress of the Neighbourhood Plan, which should result in a public consultation exhibition of the draft Plan this summer. The timetable for the referendum has been put back until 2014, to allow for the further public consultation.
Bob Berk gave a short talk on the history of the Creek Dredging, and a description of his and Eric Green’s homebuilt water injection [agitation] dredger.
Brian Caffarey gave a resume of the Creekside Path Project.
After a few questions, the meeting was peremptorily closed at 8.30pm.
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.
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.
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:
- 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;
- 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;
- preserve or enhance the area’s special archaeological, architectural and historic character, including its open spaces; and
- 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:
- preserve or enhance landmark and other important buildings, waterside structures and details;
- preserve and create access to the waterside, including wharfage and moorings, and where appropriate provide for a creekside walk;
- by use of its grain, scale, form and theme of materials, be creekside in character;
- retain existing greenspace and, where appropriate provide new areas; and
- 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.
A planning application has been made for a change of use of the No 1 Black Shed on Standard Quay. This changes the use from Workshops and Storage to a Restaurant and Cambria Visitor Centre downstairs and an Art Gallery/Function Room upstairs.
If you wish to comment on this development you can do so directly on the UK Planning website (www.ukplanning.com/swale); use Reference SW/12/1523
A copy will also be available for inspection at the Council Offices at Preston Street, Faversham Monday to Thursday 9.00am – 12.45pm; 1.30pm – 5.00pm and Friday at 9.00am – 12.45pm; 1.30pm – 4.30pm.
THE DEADLINE FOR COMMENTS IS NOW Tuesday 12th FEBRUARY
The principal issues that should be considered are;
1. that the application is premature in that it attempts to pre-empt the Creek Neighbourhood Plan that is being developed,
2. that it does not meet the criteria laid down in the current Local Plan and AAP2 for the use of Standard Quay.
Does the Town need another restaurant and can Abbey St and the Quay cope with the additional traffic and parking. It is clearly another nail in the coffin of the Quay as Maritime Heritage center. Once a restaurant is open in such a central position, it is virtually the end of boatbuilding and associated maritime trades. Gradually, working craft are being replaced by Houseboats. There are no boat repair facilities remaining nor the relevant craftsmen.
The modifications required to convert these simple buildings will irreversibly change them from simple artisan workshops and storage into modern and expensive buildings, putting them forever out of reach of tradesmen and other maritime uses.
In February 2011 a Petition was signed by over 1500 people ;
Faversham Creek has been a centre for ship building and repair for more than 300 years.
In recent years Standard Quay has regenerated the heritage, skills and apprentice training of Faversham’s maritime craftsmen. It is the last stronghold of traditional barges in the South East of England. Standard Quay, on Faversham Creek’s unique historic waterway, is of national and European importance. This industry, jobs and heritage is now under immediate threat.
We, the undersigned, petition Swale Borough Council to protect, preserve and enhance Standard Quay and the Creek environment for the building, restoration, maintenance and berthing of traditional vessels by all means possible including:
1. Helping to secure the quayside, land and buildings at Standard Quay so that local maritime craftsmen can continue their traditional boatbuilding and apprentice training activities, and Faversham Creek can expand as a national centre for Thames Sailing barge berthing, repair and restoration.
2. A Guarantee that any future Faversham Creek Development Plan will specifically rule out any possibility of the historic Standard Quay site being developed inappropriately in future – for example for housing, restaurants, cafes, hotels, licensed premises and retail use.
3. Rejecting any proposed change of use for Standard Quay’s quayside buildings, so they can continue to be used for their traditional purposes by maritime craftsmen.
THE DEADLINE FOR COMMENT IS Tuesday 12th February
This letter was published in the Faversham News 27th December after Chris and Hilary’s first letter.
I write in response to the letter from Chris Berry and Hilary Whelan, in which they state they have raised the issue of flood risk and flood defences for the Creek. [No Response to our Flood Risk Concerns Dec 20]
These matters are dealt with by the Environment Agency which is involved in the Neighbourhood Plan process. Officers from the Agency gave a presentation at the workshop held in November (details of which are on the faversham.org website). Your correspondents can rest assured that the issue of flood risk and any flood defences for the Creek will be fully incorporated in the Neighbourhood Plan when it is finalised.
There was also the suggestion that there has been little consultation and the plan was being drawn up behind closed doors. The Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group is made up of three Town Councillors plus the Town’s Planning Consultant, two Swale Borough Councillors, and representatives of the Faversham Creek Consortium (which in turn is made up of representatives of the Faversham Creek Trust and individual boat owners, the Faversham Society, and the Faversham Municipal Charities). It is difficult to see how a more representative group could be assembled to draft the plan.
All minutes are published on the Faversham.org website, as well as openly discussed at the monthly Town Council meetings, so I think it is somewhat disingenuous to argue the Plan is being drawn up behind closed doors. The Steering Group has invited all the landowners, including the Creek Trust, to present their views to the Group, and it recognises the importance of understanding residents’ concerns about plans for the Creek, which is why it organised the launch and exhibition in May, and, more recently, organised a workshop, attended by landowners, the Creek Trust, the Faversham Society, the Faversham Creek Consortium and others. Invites went to all the residents’ associations, and a representative from the Faversham Reach Residents’ Association attended.
A report of the workshop is now on the website ( HYPERLINK “http://www.faversham.org/community/favershamneighbourhoodplan.aspx” http://www.faversham.org/community/favershamneighbourhoodplan.aspx) with copies of all the presentations made by the statutory agencies (and a full attendance list). In addition, Cllr Mike Cosgrove presented an update of the Neighbourhood Plan at the recent Local Engagement Forum on 4 December.
The Steering Committee will be publishing a communications and engagement strategy shortly, when there will be another opportunity for all residents to make their views known. The Plan has not yet been drafted so there is nothing yet on which to consult. As soon as the Plan has been drafted, with input from all parties from the whole of the community taken into account, details will be published, with another opportunity for consultation.
Chris Berry and Hilary Whelan can rest assured that everyone’s comments are being carefully listened to and taken into account, in order to get to a final Plan that attracts the widest possible support from Faversham residents. While I understand that people are very passionate about the future of the Creek, I am unclear why there is such suspicion about the Neighbourhood Plan process that is designed to give residents a chance to express their views of the proposals, before they have even seen a first draft of the Plan and while the Steering Committee are still assembling all the very detailed complex information needed to start drafting the Plan.
Yours faithfully, Cllr Nigel Kay, Chair, Faversham Town Council’s Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group for Faversham Creek
Sorry for another long letter about the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan (NP), but we cannot let Nigel Kay’s response to our previous letter (Plan Is Not Being Written In Secret, Faversham News, January 3) go unchallenged.
We asked about flood risk. We got no answers, just patronising platitudes: don’t worry, it will all be taken care of.
The following have yet to be resolved: ‘flooding, contamination, silting … inaccuracies of the flood map … low-level pollution: a better quality of contamination samples and more definitive information about flooding is needed to inform thinking’ (NP workshop report, Nov 2012).
To qualify for government funding, the NP has to be inspected by an independent examiner before the end of March. We cannot see how these complex issues, unresolved after more than a year of planning, can be dealt with properly in the short time remaining.
In any case, this plan cannot proceed without compromising flood risk, because its starting point is building on Flood Zone 3B (functional flood plain, only water-compatible and essential infrastructure allowed –ie, not suitable for development).
Development is enabled by changing the designation to the less-restrictive Flood Zone 3A(i). The flood risk remains the same: this is just a device to pave the way for developers, as is openly admitted in the Fullwood Report (2010).
And Cllr Kay can’t understand why people are suspicious about the NP process? It’s because of tactics like this, a cynical determination to force through development regardless of the risks.
It’s also because the process has been dragging on since October 2011, costs have rocketed, nobody can see where the money is going or what we’ll get out of it, the plan (due in May 2012) has not even been started, and there is hardly any time left for meaningful consultation and review.
People get suspicious if they feel excluded. There has been just one open consultation, in May. The results were never published, and the only reported feedback is being misused to claim that the public wants mixed-use development on the creekside.
This is derived from a loaded question which presupposed that there had to be development and offered three choices (housing, employment, mixed use) – there were no other options which many people might have preferred, such as public amenity, open space, wharf, or ‘just leave it alone’.
Cllr Kay is complacent about transparency. The steering group minutes tell a different story. ‘Action: The Chairman will develop a communications strategy’ (Nov 2011). ‘No progress has been made on this item’ (Jun 2012). ‘Difficulty in managing communications and engagement … increasing concern about communications’ (Jul 2012). And again: ‘Action: to draw up a communications and engagement strategy’ (Aug 2012)
Now he says a strategy will be published ‘shortly’ – at least 15 months too late, and only ‘published’, we note, not put into practice.
The steering group shows no willingness to reach out to the public. Its primary motivation is to do the minimum necessary to satisfy the examiner – a ‘thread of meaningful consultation running through to show the Inspector’ (Jul 2012). It debates ‘what [the examiner] would consider to be sufficient’ and ‘whether the engagement to date would be sufficient to satisfy the independent examiner as well as the wider public’ (Aug/Sep 2012).
We can’t speak for the examiner, but as members of the wider public, the answer to that one would have to be ‘no’.
Communication is seen as strictly one-way, to ‘increase residents’ understanding of the process and proposals’ (Jul 2012) and present the plan in the best possible light: ‘the general message should be a positive one’ (Nov 2012).
The guidelines on NP development describe this kind of ‘talking at’ the public and ‘marketing’ the plan as bad practice. Good practice is continuous community engagement throughout the entire process – which shows up Cllr Kay’s excuse for lack of consultation (‘the plan has not yet been drafted so there is nothing to consult on yet’) in a very poor light.
The steering group needs to open up and stop talking only to the usual suspects. The general public has a right to know what’s happening – and might just have something constructive to contribute: useful expertise or influential contacts, fresh ideas or funding suggestions; not everyone thinks that planning gain from housing is the only game in town.
Have they heard of crowdsourcing? Have they thought of using new media creatively to get people interactively involved? There is only one mention of electronic media in the entire minutes – creation of a Facebook page – and even this seems not to have been done.
Cllr Kay, if you want the trust and support of the public, stop treating us as passive voting fodder. Give us opportunities for genuine participation in the development of this plan.
Chris Berry & Hilary Whelan Upper Brents, Faversham
FAVERSHAM CREEK NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN
Hats off to Mark Gardner [Gardner Digs, Dec 13] for flagging up concerns about flood risk in relation to the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan.
As we write this letter, Town Green is under water, the creek is lapping the town jetty and there’s a deep flood in Church Road – and this is not even an exceptionally high tide. If building on the creekside causes even the slightest increase in flooding levels, the consequences could be disastrous.
We have repeatedly raised the question of flood risk and flood defences, but we’ve had no response whatsoever. The subject is barely mentioned in the many consultations and reports on the future of the creekside, even though most of the land is designated by the Environment Agency as a flood risk area. It’s high time this was taken seriously.
Neighbourhood Plans must conform to the EU Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) Directive. Any potential environmental impact should be screened by the local authority at an early stage, to determine whether an SEA is required. Has this been done? Have the flood risk implications been fully evaluated?
The letters from Councillors Cosgrove and Kay raise further concerns about the Neighbourhood Plan process. It does appear that, apart from the initial launch/exhibition in May, the plan is being drawn up behind closed doors by a small group of people who consult only those they choose, that the rest of us are expected to wait patiently and be grateful for any concessions squeezed out of landowners, and that dissenting opinion is not welcomed.
Community engagement is a legal requirement in the development of Neighbourhood Plans, yet the vast majority of Faversham residents have no idea what is being done in their name and with their money. Even those who take an active interest find it difficult to get information or to have any influence on the planning process.
Six months in, the steering group has not yet developed its community engagement strategy. The guidelines on Neighbourhood Plan development state that ‘properly engaging people from the beginning … ensures that there is an opportunity to influence the detail of the plan, rather than just having the option to accept or reject the whole plan … If the outcomes have already been determined, then community engagement is tokenistic (marketing)’ – yet the steering group minutes and the councillors’ letters strongly suggest that this is what they have in mind: waiting until the plan has been drawn up, then ‘selling’ it to us and trying to convince us to vote for it, whether we like it or not, on the grounds that the alternative will be worse.
The guidelines say that: ‘Community engagement should be undertaken before work commences … and throughout the process of plan preparation … It is important to publicise the proposals as widely as possible using different media … Feedback should be provided throughout the process.’
Prominent in the ‘what not to do’ guidelines are ‘consulting too late, placing a thick document on a stand in a library or on a website and expecting people to read it, or talking at people at a public meeting. Asking consultants to produce options before consulting the community is also poor practice. Consultation should not be treated as a one-off tick-box exercise … analysis of responses is not about counting the numbers, but considering the depth and range of responses.’
If people are not actively informed and involved, it’s no wonder that tempers are raised at meetings and angry letters are written to the newspapers. Instead of peevishly disparaging their critics, complaining about how difficult their job is, and expecting unquestioning support for whatever they’re doing (but not telling us what it is), our elected representatives should be seeking to engage with objectors and address their concerns.
This plan is supposed to be local democracy in action: it needs to be opened up to public scrutiny. Publishing in full the results of the May consultation would be a good start.
Chris Berry & Hilary Whelan – Upper Brents, Faversham
Much of what has been stated recently here by Brian Caffarey about the Faversham Creek Trust’s view of the future of the Creek is untrue – see Comments on the report on the LEF. Both the Trust’s original detailed response to the Vanguard Project’s presentation last May, and a recent short version prepared for the November Neighbourhood Plan Workshop, set out clearly the Trust’s view about ALL the sites on the Creek, so it is disingenuous to claim that the Trust has no interest or view other than the Purifier.
It is revealing to look at how Creekside development has evolved in recent years. 75% of the Creekside waterfront below the bridge has already been allocated to housing; that leaves 25% to be split as mixed development; at 50:50 that is just 12.5% for employment, commercial, industrial or leisure, maritime related or otherwise. Sustainable?
Whilst many people, including Trust Members, would like to see the remaining sites reserved solely for employment and leisure based activities, the Trust’s formal view has always been to accept a mixed development overall, subject to generic and site specific constraints. That does not necessarily mean mixed development on each and every site, and certainly the Purifier and Ordnance are exceptions: the Trust has no option but to oppose the plans for Ordnance to protect its own Plans and investment. But this is not the sole focus of the Trust’s interest. The Trust, alongside the Consortium, has put much work into finding a solution to the need for a lifting Bridge; all that is on public record.
It is true that the Trust has not expressed a view on the issue of extended footpaths, other than ensuring that public access is built into any future Creekside development, but the Trust can assure Brian and the Creek Planners, that it fully supports whatever plans they have in this regard. However, this was a problem created by Developers, the ones who ‘have rights’ – whilst ignoring their responsibilities. It seems hard to argue that the very exclusivity marketed by developers, and paid for by residents, should be claimed back without some mitigation or compensation.
Finally, the Trust’s views are by no means the only ones that count. It is local residents who will ultimately determine the fate of the Neighbourhood Plan, and without their support, the Plan may be rejected at the forthcoming referendum on the Ordnance Wharf issue alone. It would be helpful if the Vanguard Steering group would clear the air by publishing the results of the consultation survey carried out last May, and the current status of the Plan, so that all can see how the matter stands. It is the detail that everyone wants to see.
As now reported in both local papers, several members of the Trust went to the recent Local Engagement Forum meeting this month, and heard (among other things) a presentation by Mike Cosgrove giving his view of the emerging Neighbourhood Plan for the Creekside. This was a useful talk as it laid out some of the background and the way the government expects the process to go forward.
He made it very clear that when this process reaches its Referendum stage next year, unless there is at least 50% endorsement of the Plan, it will fall away and we will have no plan – ie. any developer will be able to put in any proposal without guidelines in place, and our precious waterside sites will be unprotected. To us, this looks like a win-win for any developers: if their proposals are incorporated into the Neighbourhood Plan which is rejected as a result, they get a clear scope to proceed without a Plan in place. Can this be right?
We were disappointed by the limited scope of the ‘vision’ for the Creek as he presented it – their ideal seemed to be creekside path and moorings, a maritime flavour to the development of the 100 housing units near the Creek, and marine twiddles on the buildings. This looks very out-of-date and tame in comparison to our idea for the economic regeneration of the Creekside especially in the Basin, and with ongoing commercial benefits for the whole town. We will have to make our case more clearly.
We were also disappointed by his replies to questions asking when the public responses to the May consultation exercise would be published (as promised). It is very odd that they have not, and apparently do not wish to publish the result of this survey. Mike Cosgrove said 900, then 800, people had taken part – so why can we not see what everyone said? We gave our opinions on the basis that they would publish the results.
There were some frustrated and angry questions put to the meeting, none of which reached any resolution. Personally I deplore this raised-voice method of communication, but there is no doubt, there is a difference of opinion between some of the people facilitating the Plan process and a great body of local people. This has to be resolved, and in detail. So much is at stake.
This paper sets out the views of the Faversham Creek Trust on the future of the Creek Neighbourhood. One over-riding principle should govern planning in this area: the waterfront is (a) a scarce economic resource and (b) an irreplaceable public amenity. Rather than being sacrificed to short-term gains, e.g., housing that contributes little to sustainable employment or the local economy, it should be designated as open space and land for commercial or light industrial activity, the latter associated preferably with maritime activities that reflect the special character of Faversham as a Cinque Port Limb. We envisage the creek neighbourhood, and particularly the upper creek basin, as a centre for growth in light marine industries, providing critical mass together with long-term employment including jobs for young people whose opportunities locally are in decline. Marine activities also act a multiplier for tourism, which in turn will generate economic spin-off that will benefit service industries throughout the town.
As a result of growing concern among residents about the future of the creek, the Faversham Creek Trust was formed in 2011 and became a registered charity in 2012 with currently about 400 subscribing members. Its main aim is to support regeneration of the creek – and particularly the upper creek basin – in a way that recognises the special character of the area and contributes to the long-term prosperity of the town. As a practical demonstration of what can be achieved, the Trust has leased the Purifier building at the head of the creek and launched a funding campaign that so far has collected £60 000 towards refurbishing the building, which is now being converted as a training centre for shipwrights and related skills. It will also house workshops for associated marine industries and a community involvement project.
Traditional wooden sailing craft symbolise the cultural and economic heritage of the Thames estuary, and they are becoming more popular as a source of recreation and a focus for tourism. We envisage Faversham Creek, and particularly the upper creek basin, as a centre for growth in traditional ship repair and associated light marine industries that are presently being dispersed owing to shortage of affordable waterfront space. It is important to retain critical mass. Local craftsmen have acquired a national reputation in boatbuilding and repair, and the industry can provide long-term jobs, including jobs for young people whose opportunities elsewhere are in decline. Marine activities also act as a multiplier for tourism, which in turn will generate economic spin-off that will benefit service industries throughout the town.
In the south east of England, there are currently 37 Thames barges and 60 sailing smacks under sail1, all of which need facilities for maintenance. Together with other marine craft they form an attractive backdrop to any coastal scene, and there are several towns around the south and east coast of Britain that have capitalised on marine activity as a catalyst for tourism. For example, Maldon in Essex has a harbour run by the Town Council that moors ten barges. It attracts over 30 000 visitors per year largely as a result of its maritime heritage. By contrast, Faversham, with a similar population but a lower public profile, attracts little more than a half of that number2.
We believe that with energetic management over a sustained period, our town can and should achieve a similar level. Every harbour ‘…incorporates a marine cluster which creates opportunities for bars, restaurants, riggers, yacht brokers, charter companies, training schools, chandleries, boatyards, sail makers, diesel engine repairs, electronics suppliers, specialist clothing, fishing gear, divers, upholsterers, marine plumbers and boat repairers.’3 For every job created in a marina, 12 jobs are created across the associated supply chain and across a wider range of service industries that thrive on waterside development. Faversham has the additional advantage of a cultural heritage as a Cinque Port Limb. Given that local employment for young people is in decline, now is the time to engage on a concerted programme to capitalise on the town’s position at the head of the creek and its long history of shipbuilding. The key is what happens along the waterfront whose potential, linked to the increasing popularity of traditional sailing craft in particular and marine-based recreation generally, can be exploited in a sustainable and imaginative way.
The Brents Swing Bridge
Central to this vision is refurbishment of the Brents Swing Bridge and the restoration of full operation to allow vessels access to the upper basin. The upper basin is critical to the regeneration of the creek neighbourhood, and a fixed bridge would compromise both its special character and its potential as a focal point for development. Without it, the waterfront, which is a precious resource, will be sacrificed to short-term gains, e.g., housing that contributes little to sustainable employment or the local economy.
The over-riding principle that should govern planning development in the creek neighbourhood is that waterfront is (a) a scarce resource and (b) an irreplaceable public amenity. It should be designated either as open space or as land for commercial or light industrial activity, the latter associated preferably with maritime activities that reflect the special character of the area, as shown on the attached map. Moorings should be owned and operated by the local authority, as opposed to private developers. In what follows we comment only on those sites bordering the upper creek basin together with Swan Quay and the Upper Brents Industrial Estate, with the understanding that the same principle applies to all the remaining sites identified and numbered on the Borough Council’s map.
1. THE PURIFIER BUILDING
The Purifier building is about to enter a new lease of life as a training centre for shipwrights together with workshops for associated marine industries. As such it will create new jobs and help to cement business links among maritime entrepreneurs throughout the area. The Purifier will also be the base for a maritime heritage project enabling local people to participate in a range of activities centred on regeneration of the creek, and promoting knowledge of Faversham’s maritime history in schools and among the local community. An attractive feature of the upper creek with its mature brickwork and characteristic detailing, the building should not be obscured or dominated by inappropriate development in Ordnance Wharf opposite.
2. ORDNANCE WHARF
This is an acutely sensitive site. As the economic and visual focus of the upper creek basin, it must remain a wharf for vessels undertaking repairs, with additionally space for workshops, storage, and public open space. The design of individual buildings should be sympathetic to the local landscape, no more than two stories high so that they do not break the skyline as viewed from surrounding residential streets and from Stonebridge Pond, nor dominate the special character of the Purifier building.
3. BMM WESTON
In recent years the lower creek waterfront has been sterilised with private housing development that contributes little or nothing to public amenity or to the local economy. The BMM Weston car park and Cleavers’ Wharf provide an unequalled opportunity to reverse the trend by opening the upper creek basin to economic regeneration and public open space. We envisage the wharf as a winter mooring for smacks and barges, with the strip bordering the waterfront as green open space in which existing trees and shrubs would be largely retained. Reinstatement of the wharf can be achieved from the water at an estimated cost of £100 000 using railway sleepers slotted into steel universal beams. At 25 metres per barge, 125 metres of wharf will provide 10 berths moored in two rows of five, and generate an annual income of £20 000 in the short term, with considerably more in the form of spin-off activities in future years.
Further back, commercial development will reflect the maritime associations of the creek, for example, a replica of the Graveney boat, a headquarters for sailing trips, offices and marine stores together with public car parking. Residential housing should be sited on the upper hill as shown in the attached drawing.
4. SWAN QUAY
This important cluster of marine buildings, adjacent to the Town Quay, houses a large sailmaking business, slipway and offices. Given reasonable tenure and freedom from the current uncertainty of its lease, the business would take on two more apprentices increasing total employment to five people. The Swan Quay Wharf frontage is an important holding point for vessels entering or leaving the Basin.
11. UPPER BRENTS INDUSTRIAL ESTATE
The industrial estate provides affordable accommodation for light industry that is otherwise in short supply. Effectively a nursery for local enterprise, it provides services to local residents at competitive prices, supports a significant number of jobs with potential for future growth, and can contribute to critical mass in the evolution of marine industries at other locations in the creek basin. It should therefore be retained in its present form.
We believe that as far as Faversham is concerned, the case for a coherent strategy of regeneration speaks for itself. Until recently, too little attention has been paid to the particular features of the townscape and how they can be exploited to serve its economic needs. The alternative is continued downgrading and neutralisation in the pursuit of housing development. The consequences of failure can split communities. A good example can be found in the Coastal regeneration handbook edited by John K Walton and Patrick Browne, which refers to
‘…the outrage that erupted in Whitstable in the summer of 2007 when proposals for ‘regenerating’ a profitable working harbour by destroying the existing ambience of the South Quay to make way for a hotel, supermarket and theme pub were published under the auspices of Canterbury City Council. The plans, submitted in competition by external developers, were rejected after a fierce and popular local campaign, and Whitstable Harbour Watch was established to keep an eye on future developments, recognising the need to preserve the distinctive and unusual character of the working harbour while sustaining its economic viability. This was one of many examples of a local authority failing to recognise the individuality of its component communities and seeking to impose a standard scheme on an enjoyably untidy area of attractive character.’
Faversham can avoid following the same trajectory through imaginative planning that takes a longer view.
By Simon Foster, Eldon Hinchliffe and Chris Wright
08 November 2012
1. Thames sailing barges: illustrated guide to 2011, 4th edition.
2. Maldon and Faversham Tourist offices, October 2012.
3. Towards integration on the Kent Coast
HYPERLINK “http://www.coastalkent.net/data/action_plan/document_18_Regeneration%20and%20Coastal%20Towns,%20Kent%20Coast.pdf” http://www.coastalkent.net/data/action_plan/document_18_Regeneration%20and%20Coastal%20Towns,%20Kent%20Coast.pdf
4. Coastal regeneration handbook: Coastal Regeneration in English Resorts 2010 edited by John K Walton and Patrick Browne HYPERLINK “http://www.coastalcommunities.co.uk/library/pdfs/coastal-regeneration-handbook.pdf” http://www.coastalcommunities.co.uk/library/pdfs/coastal-regeneration-handbook.pdf