Development plans submitted for the old Oil Depot

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This view does not show their true scale but these houses are a full 4 storeys high. You can just see the existing adjacent block to the right which is 3 storey. There is a provision for pontoon moorings in front of the right hand block that is set back.

However, there does not appear to be continuity of the walkway from the adjacent property, as specified in the Neighbourhood Plan, to allow continuous public access along the waterfront, potentially creating the same unhappy and contentious situation as exists on the opposite bank along the front of Faversham Reach and Waterside.

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The Neighbourhood Plan, soon to go to referendum, does provide for development on this site, but it is a shame that the developer has resorted to cramming in as many units as possible, which, when added to the existing and planned adjacent developments, exacerbates the crowding in of the Creek, continuing to treat it as a Street. As usual, it is all about maximising the returns for the developer with little concern for the sustainable future of the Creek which the Neighbourhood Plan is supposed to protect.

This plan should be viewed in the context of the developer’s original vision for the adjacent development of Standard Quay.

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You can see the original plans for the development of Standard Quay here;

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Had a plan been prepared for the combined sites, both in the same ownership, it may have been possible to create a more relaxed, integrated and attractive development, truly adding value to their waterside location rather than simply exploiting it. Adding rows of pseudo warehouse style blocks, which never existed this way on the creekside, in the first place, and failing to acknowledge the presence, style and scale of the Black Sheds, and ancient buildings behind, for instance, is a missed opportunity to create an environment with real architectural merit.

The planning application with all the details can be viewed here;

16/508709/FULL | Erection of 10no. dwellings with associated parking and landscaping. | Former Oil Depot Abbey Wharf Standard Quay Faversham Kent ME13 7BS.

SWAN QUAY Judicial Review Decision

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and this Trust’s view of Building No 1, Standard Quay

From our Chairman, Sue Akhurst, to SBC Planning;
I am writing on behalf of Faversham Creek Trust to object to this application for conversion of Building No. 1 at Standard Quay into a restaurant, art gallery and Cambria museum.

FCT objects on the grounds that the change not only does nothing to enhance the maritime future and regeneration of Faversham Creek, but it would also be seriously detrimental to the character of the building, its setting, and its potential use for skilled maritime and related trades and activities. These activities need open and secure covered space alongside the Creek, with space for boats to be moored while work is conducted, and space for materials to be stored for present and future use. This area of Standard Quay was ideally suited for this purpose, and was used very effectively in this way until May 2011 when the company’s lease was not renewed by the current owner.

This application is almost identical to the previous one, which was refused Swale Borough Council and dismissed by the Planning Inspectorate on appeal (Appeal A: APP/V2255/A/13/2202894 and Appeal B: APP/V2255/E/13/2202924), with nineteen reasons being given for the dismissal. The conclusion was “For the reasons given above and having regard to all other matters raised, including the ongoing proposed Faversham Creek Neighbourhood plan and the risk of flooding, I conclude that both appeals should be dismissed.”

The same criteria for refusal on that occasion should apply to this application.

The Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan (FCNP) states:

Objective 3: Create, safeguard and expand hubs at Standard Quay and the Town Quay/basin to reinforce the area’s importance for maritime activity and to provide training and tourism opportunities
Access, traffic and parking
4.20 This applies particularly to Ordnance Wharf and to the downstream sites (Standard Quay, Coach Depot, Oil Depot) which are currently accessible only via Abbey Street, a narrow thoroughfare along one of the best-preserved medieval streets in south-east England. There is also restricted access at the junction of Quay Lane, Belvedere Road and Conduit Street.

The Site Specific Policies for Standard Quay in the FCNP state:

STQ1 Any uses of the black sheds, Baltic House and the oldl granary shall retain their existing external appearance and shall display the minimum of signage required t0 advertise their business.

STQ2 Establish a cluster of land uses that make this part of the Creek a visitor destination for maritime related works, leisure, retail and food and drink uses.

STQ3 Ensure that land uses and design contribute to a place that is vibrant both night and day to ensure a safe and secure place.

FCT contend that the proposed alterations to create a restaurant contravene STQ1 by altering the existing external appearance of Building No. 1, including building an extension, changes to windows and doors and other alterations. They also change the internal fabric of the building including insulation, flooring and ceiling coverings and so on.

FCT contend that the application contravenes STQ2. There are already several examples of the non-maritime related visitor attractions, including leisure, retail and food at Standard Quay, with a wine bar / restaurant and a café as well as other businesses operating in the area and a public house very close by. What is still lacking is the ‘maritime related works’ part of this policy.

The Independent Examiner’s Report on the FCNP refuses to remove this phrase, as the Examiner believed it to be a vital objective for the site. The report states:

“Site 08 Standard Quay
71. Site 8 includes an important collection of listed buildings: a grade II* listed building (the old granary) and also grade II listed buildings (former warehouses). These are of obvious and considerable importance both individually and as a group. The appearance of the site includes car-repair, which detracts from it, and antique, café and garden centre uses that appear to serve tourism. The approach of the Draft NDP, does not conflict with any basic condition. I have no power to follow the proposed ‘minor modifications’ to delete “Activities associated with maritime trades are to be encouraged” and I would not in any event consider this deletion to be appropriate in the light of SBLP policy AAP2. I do not recommend any modifications.”

Another issue of great concern is parking. There is already a great deal of parking along the quayside, compared to its former use for storage of materials and active work on moored boats. The section of the FCNP relating to Standard House says this about parking:

STH5 All vehicular access to the site shall be from New Creek Road to preserve the appearance of the open area in front of the house as a quayside.

Standard House is set back from the Quayside. This proposal includes parking right on the quayside, for a long distance.

Standard Quay is an extremely important part of Faversham’s maritime heritage, as described in the Swale Borough Council Conservation Area Character Appraisal (2004). It is also one of the few remaining areas in Faversham that are still suitable for maritime employment, including boat building and repair, as described in SBC’s Swale Employment Land Review (2008): 6.29 Boat Repair/Creekside Activities.

In addition to these points, FCT object to the proposal of a restaurant on this site on the grounds of noise, nuisance and traffic. Permission was granted about three years ago for the wine bar, BinElla, initially for indoor activities only. Since then, permission has been granted for a certain number of outdoor activities with music, up to, I believe, 11 p.m. I am told by residents of Faversham Reach and Waterside that these licensing conditions are regularly flouted, with more activities outside the restaurant taking place, with more music and for longer hours, and at significantly higher volumes than are acceptable in a residential area. These breaches have been repeatedly reported to Swale Enforcement, but no action has been taken.

BinElla started operating a restaurant, using space in the building that had received planning permission for residential use by a member of staff. Both of these applications were made retrospectively, when many of the alterations and changes to business had already been made. This has increased the nuisance to the local residents, particularly on the other side of the Creek. If another restaurant were to be established so close by, it very likely would soon be applying for permission to have tables outside, perhaps music and other events outside, and the disturbance would be greatly increased. The Creek acts like an amphitheatre, amplifying the sound to the annoyance of other people, in this otherwise quiet and peaceful area at the approach to the countryside.

The traffic nuisance should not be ignored either. Swale had to pay costs against the previous appeal because you objected on the grounds of traffic flows in Abbey Street, but had no traffic survey to back up your objection. I suspect you still do not have a traffic survey. It would be well worth while to commission one. Anyone walking or driving down Abbey Street at almost any time of the day or evening, although especially at school times, will be aware of the slalom movements required of drivers.

Finally, the whole of Standard Quay is seriously at risk of flooding. The most recent flood in December 2013 brought water up to a depth of three and even four feet over the wharf and right across the roadway on the other side of the black buildings. These flood events may not be frequent, but they happen about every 15-20 years, and should not be ignored, especially with the expected rise in sea levels and increased frequency of unusual weather.

It is very evident that the owner of Building No. 1 has neglected its repair and maintenance, as there are now holes in the walls. This is strange given that one of his agent’s arguments at the hearing of the Independent Examiner against the previous tenants was that they had not maintained the building well enough, despite the fact that they had taken it over in a derelict condition and then spent thousands of pounds on many thousands of feet of timber to reclad it. There is also an unauthorised block on the end of Building No. 1, which I believe is a toilet block, which has never received planning permission, is permanent enough to be connected to mains water and drainage, and certainly detracts from the appearance of the building. It does not show on the site maps provided by the applicant.

Faversham Creek Trust is a charity and a not-for-profit CIC with solid community support for our aims of working towards the maritime regeneration of the Creek for the benefit of the whole town, through training in heritage skills, education, tourism and employment. We have canvassed the opinions of our members as well as a wider group around the town (for example, at our Exhibition about FCNP in May 2014, attended by nearly 1,000 people), so we have evidence that we are speaking for a significant number of Faversham residents when we make these comments.

I hope that you and your fellow planners at Swale Borough Council will take these points into serious consideration when you make your recommendations regarding this application.
Yours sincerely
Sue Akhurst
Chairman

Restaurant at No 1 Standard Quay

The Faversham Society does not support the development of a restaurant in Building 1 of Standard Quay. The Society is disappointed that there is to be further gentrification at Standard Quay and that this important quayside townscape is being developed in the way that it is, the extent of car parking and retail in the areas around these iconic buildings detracts from them. The development of the restaurant will further detract from the conservation area and an important part of Faversham’s maritime heritage is being lost as the quayside becomes a shopping and café/restaurant area. There are also legitimate concerns about the increasing flow of traffic in Abbey Street and a significant flood risk.

The best use for a conserved building is one as close as possible to its original use. A restaurant is far from that. Both the Society’s Planning Committee and the Board have spent time carefully examining the proposal. We have published the outcome of discussions in the Planning Committee (see below). The Board considered the Planning Committee’s analysis and with regret decided not to object to the planning application. Whilst we see no grounds for rejecting the planning application on planning grounds, and do not wish to see the Council required to pay further compensation to the developer, this does not mean that we support the application.

The Planning Inspector’s Decision in January 2014 rejected Swale’s case except on heritage conservation grounds. He pointed out that the “workmanship and utilitarian nature of the building envelope exemplified by the rough and ready quality of its finishes and internal spaces, all contribute to its special architectural interest and to its historic character as part of the wharf.”[1] The Inspector further pointed to the importance of the building’s “form and finishes …which evokes the long history of the quay..”[2]

The Inspector expressed concern that in order to turn the building into a restaurant, the overall nature of the building would change and that “the overall nature of the building and of the conservation area would be significantly damaged.” The Swale Conservation Officer has secured detailed specifications, in the Heritage Statement, on the internal form and finishing and the Board consequently saw no grounds for rejecting the application. The focus now shifts to compliance with the conditions placed on the planning permission.

The Society has invited Swale Planners and Enforcement Officers to a members’ evening in the Fleur Hall on February 16th at 19:30. We shall be discussing the Council’s approach to planning compliance and enforcement and we shall be pressing the Council to ensure that all the details so carefully defined in the application will be enforced. In our view conditions should be attached to the decision – if the decision is to allow the application – and those conditions should be detailed, robust and enforced.

The Society will object where we can identify planning grounds, once the planning permission passes the issue is compliance. This may be an example where planning has secured good design – the proof will be in the degree of compliance. If the restaurant were to fail there may well be an application for change of use or further gentrification. The Society will remain vigilant.

Another Restaurant on Standard Quay

A Letter from Ray Harrison to Swale Borough Council Planning Dept.

Planning and listed building consent applications 16/508342/LBC and 18/508341/Full for Building No 1, Standard Quay, Abbey Road, Faversham, Kent, ME13 7BS.

I wish to raise objection to the proposals put forward in the above applications. I understand that this letter may arrive outside the closing date for public comment but would be grateful if you could nonetheless consider it, given that part of the consultation period fell over the winter break.

In relation to the previous applications at this site and the Appeal against their refusal, it was a proposed new restaurant use that the Inspector, in the Appeal Decisions dated 16 Jan 2015, ruled unacceptably damaging in principle to the character of the listed building.

The Appeal cases referred to are Appeal A: APP/V2255/A/13/2202894 and Appeal B: APP/V2255/E/13/2202924, both relating to Building No 1, Standard Quay, Abbey Road, Faversham, Kent, ME13 7BS.

The current applications as now tabled remain essentially unaltered from those that have gone before in respect of the principle of the proposed new restaurant element. As noted it was upon the principle of the new restaurant use that the previous Appeals failed.

To support my case of objection I set out some detail from the Committee Report on the Appeal and the Appeal Decision itself as follows –

The Council’s Planning Committee Report of 12th March 2015, Item 3.2, page 115, headed ‘The Appeal Decision..’ This is a very good summary of the Appeal Decision, written at the time for the benefit of Members.

The main part of the head para, Para 8.03 of the Report, on page 115 reads:
‘ In the Inspector’s Appeal decision… he dismissed the Council’s case … He identified (that) the main issue to be considered was whether the proposals would preserve the special interest of the listed building, and preserve or enhance the character of the conservation area.’

Para 8. 04 of the Report quotes the Inspector. The key part of this quoted passage is as follows:
‘… Overall, I find that the significance of the building lies in the part it plays in the wharf as a whole and by enclosing a space which evokes the utilitarian uses for which it was built and subsequently used.’

Para 8.05 provides further quotation, the important passage here being:
‘….The changes that would be necessary to turn the building into a restaurant would make its appearance far smarter and more refined. As a result, the overall nature of the building would change and this important element of its special interest would be altered so much that the character of both the building and the conservation area would be significantly damaged. If the appeals were permitted, it would be unreasonable to refuse subsequent consent for cleanable surfaces for food preparation, additional signage or measures to reduce draughts and this incremental damage would further harm the significance of the listed building.’

Para 8.06 notes that:
‘He (the inspector) took the view that the significantly harmful level of intervention proposed in order to convert the building to a restaurant was not necessary to sustain the future of the listed building.’

Para 8.08 notes that:
‘He concluded that, on balance, the proposals failed to preserve and would cause harm to the special interest of the listed building and the character of the conservation area, and that the benefits of the scheme would not outweigh the harm.’

Relevant extracts from the Appeal decision.

Extract – Para 8, page 2 of the Decision:
….Overall, I find that the significance of the building lies in the part it plays in the wharf as a whole and by enclosing a space which evokes the utilitarian uses for which it was built and subsequently used.

Extract – Para 14, page 3 of Decision:
‘… While the current roof covering might not be adequate for its proposed use, it was perfectly adequate for its last use and, as maritime storage or maritime related uses, it is probably not necessary for the building to be entirely weather tight or draught proofed….’

Extract – Para 16, page 4 of Decision.
‘…I find that the costs to sustain the building for storage or maritime uses need not entail the level of intervention proposed….Moreover, given that the building was in use in roughly its current condition before the last lease was terminated, I find that occupiers could be found to fund the extent of repairs required without changing the use of the building.’

The significance and implications of the Inspector’s judgments.

It was the inspector’s view that an important part of the significance of the building lies in the entity of its form (space, structure and finishes), inside and out, as it survived as a maritime uses structure, in one form or another, from its inception until its modern maritime-use related leases were terminated by the Appellant.

He considered that maritime uses or maritime storage uses could have continued and that these would have brought in sufficient funds to keep the building wind and weather tight – i.e. appropriate for the uses involved and entirely appropriate also for the location on an historic industrial maritime Quay in the Faversham conservation area.

The proposed restaurant use would involve the ‘smartening-up’ of the building. One particular area of smartening, as the drawings show, is to the insides of its external envelope where insulation and internal wall and roof sheathing significantly reduce the quality of extant interior character.

Such changes to character are seen in timber framed barn conversions through the County. There is no doubt, and experience shows, that in these cases, after ‘conversion’ the barns are left with little evidence of their millennial original functions of crop storage in great open bays and the heavy, dusty and back breaking winter time manual labour of threshing .

The farmer is invariably able to demonstrate that his barn is inappropriate for modern day agricultural use. Conversion then introduces entirely non-agriculturally related uses, such as residential, that might be brought in to ‘save’ the building from dereliction.

This case however differs from the standard barn conversion exercise because as noted by the Inspector there was a previous and viable use of the building. This perpetuated the historic working characteristics of this traditional, pre-industrial, timber-framed, maritime related structure – inside and out – protecting its fragile historic character.

It is important to recognise that this particular type of building, of this age and form and in this historic condition, is a very a rare, and vanishing, phenomenon in its own right today – vanishing in part of course due to the success of planning/LBC applications such as this one.

The implication of the Inspector’s ruling is that restaurant use would only be acceptable if it posed as little threat to the historic entity of the building as did its last rented uses, which the Appellant had discontinued (see comment on Para 8.06 of the Council’s report, (page 1 here) and Par 16, page 4 of the Decision, (page 2) here). And this of course is impossible. This remains the case with the current application, just as much as with its predecessor.

I fully concur with the Inspector’s ruling and believe, like him, that in the interests of preserving the unusual degree of historic interest that this very rare, threatened building possesses, the current application for its re development (which in respect of the restaurant element at least follows those that have gone before) should be refused.
J.R.Harrison. AA Dipl., Registered Architect, Dipl. Cons (York), MIHBC.

Standard Quay, a Heritage Site

This note which was prepared by Richard Hugh Perks in 2011.

At that time he placed the Quay in the context of comparable facilities: Cinque Port quaysides (Faversham, Whitstable Harbour, Margate Harbour, Rye Harbour, etc.) as these all fell within the Nord Pas de Calais EU Maritime Heritage Area which ran from Hastings round the coast to Faversham; Arthur Percival had also suggested Nieuwpoort, and Hugh Perks then added Etaples.

Hugh Perks went on to say:
“Warehouses on the Standard Quay Frontage

The importance of the warehouses/storage buildings/workshops fronting Standard Quay in Faversham is their grouping. They are among some of the few surviving early 19th groups of similar buildings which have remained substantially unaltered in character and use. An example of such a group of buildings is the Hastings Net Shops, which were restored around ten years ago under a Heritage Economic Regeneration (HERS) scheme.

It has not been possible to date the Standard Quay buildings from documentary evidence. They are shown in their present configuration on the 1867 1:2,500 Ordnance Survey plan, but not on the c.1745 plan of Faversham known as Jacob’s Map, which depicts only one building on the quayside in this location in front of what is now known as Monks Granary. In medieval times the quay and site of the buildings formed part of Faversham Abbey, however, no quayside buildings are depicted on Elia Allen’s 16th C. plan of Abbey Farm.

It is likely that this group of buildings in their present form date from shortly after 1843 when the New Navigation was dug, forming a new channel to the east of the eastern end of Standard Quay. The Faversham Navigation Commission documents held at the Faversham Society show that under the Faversham Navigation Act of 1842 Notice to commence works was served on Lord Sondes, owner of Standard Quay, and on his tenants, Mark Redman’s barge yard and George Crocker’s sail loft. Part of the frontage was taken to accommodate the cutting of the New Navigation but plans do not show the extent of the width of quay taken. The Notice indicates that some buildings existed on the quayside frontage prior to 1842.

The New Navigation enabled substantially larger vessels to navigate up to and beyond Standard Quay. The quayside buildings would have been used primarily for the storage of bulk goods, but also as workshops for quayside activities, including shipbuilding and repairing. This use continued into the early 1980’s when commercial trade ceased to Standard Quay. The Inspector of Nuisances schedule of shipping for 1880-1882 lists vessels berthing at Standard Quay – brigs, schooners, ketches and one fully-rigged ship. Among them are several vessels from the Baltic delivering cereals and timber to Standard Quay – hence the naming of the group of quayside buildings as Baltic House.

The actual quayside buildings themselves are of timber framing and weatherboard cladding. The roofs, however, are not original and were rebuilt to a steeper pitch following incendiary bombing of the quay during the last war. A full survey of the timber framing has not yet been carried out, however there is evidence that some ships’ timbers were used in their construction. For example, a tying beam in one building is formed of the keel and deadwood of a fishing smack.

The quayside buildings form an important group of vernacular structures. Although listed, were these buildings to be altered to provide leisure and other facilities the now rare character of one of the few surviving such groups of industrial buildings would be lost.


Richard Hugh Perks, Local Maritime Historian and Author, and Building Conservation Surveyor, Visiting Professor in the architecture of medieval buildings, University of Trento. Currently course director, Building Surveying, Canterbury College.”

 

Thai students visit the Purifier

A group of language students from Thailand visited the Purifier Building today, and met our Shipwrights Simon Grillet and Alan Thorne.

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They are scholarship students sponsored by the Thai Govt. They come from all over Thailand and are put into competitions by their schools, usually eventually being international olympiad medal winners in maths and physics. Their govt then pays for them to be educated in Europe or the US and they are contracted to return to work for their country for twice as long as they have been educated. So the Thai govt gets 20 years of work from top brains.