Re Area Action/Development Plan Document, for Faversham Creek
Thank-you for the opportunity to comment on the above document. I have lived full time in Faversham 7 years but have been associated with Faversham, the Creek and the general area for well over 40 years. I am a keen sailor have been sailing, using mainly the Estuary area for over 20 years, so my interest comes very much from the potential opportunities presented by any development of the Creek for small craft.
The above document understandably focuses mainly on the area surrounding the Creek rather than the Creek its self and I believe the Creek should be the first priority.
I believe the Creek is the heart of Faversham and without addressing how we might turn the Creek again into a bustling and thriving water way, no Creek development plan will be successful in the longer term. In my view this can only be achieved by attracting more craft both commercial and pleasure into the Creek. The users of the Creek would then help fund the activities needed to develop and maintain the Creek. Any development around the Creek should pay a surcharge or levy to help maintain the Creek facilities as the developments and developers are benefiting from the Creek.
My thoughts and comments;
There is nothing in the document about the potential income (to the Peel Port Authority, the town, including shops/restaurants/public houses and other commercial businesses) that could be generated by encouraging more small craft to make the Creek as their home berth and/or visit the Creek while cruising the area. The Berthing and Port Licence/Conservancy fees could be considerable per craft, plus there is the craft maintenance costs and other general ‘in town spending’ of visiting yachtsman. While I do not know it the income value brought by attracting more craft to an area is well tested and accepted (and widely used by the marine industry). These income values per craft are used when e.g. drafting business plans for marina developments etc. This new/additional income could support some/much of essential development being considered.
There is nothing in the document about the number of small craft currently using the creek (and what income, if any, they produce) or the number the creek could accommodate if encouraged by further development and maximised.
If the Basin area were dredged and floating pontoons, fixed to piles, made available, I believe a very significant number of boats could be attracted to use the Basin area.
In addition (and if possible) the Sluice gates could be (re)configured to hold a minimum depth of (say) at least 2m in the Basin. Boats would be afloat at all states of the tide within the Basin and this would further encourage small craft to use the Basin and improve the wider look/appeal of the Basin area. The pontoons would be separated from the current quay’s sides, with one landing point needed, so this would not impact on surrounding businesses.
Most modern boats are not flat bottomed as old craft and barges so need to sit in either soft mud or remain afloat.
The gates and swing bridge would need to be opened at high tide for craft to enter and leave but this would be funded by the fees charged to users and would ensure the continued maintenance of this vital and attractive/interesting feature of town life.
An alternative but often used method (where the tidal range is sufficient) to create floating moorings would be to install a fixed ‘ceil’ (small dam) to maintain the water level in the Basin but allow entrance and exit over the ‘ceil’ at high water.
The bridge will one day need significant maintenance or even replacement, even if never opened, to ensure it is safe for crossing road traffic. Use of the Basin could generate at least some funding for this.
The Brent Jetty could be greatly extended (subject to some further dredging) as the channel has narrowed in this area beyond both ends of the current jetty and a separate well marked area could be provided in the Creek for ‘visiting’ boats/small craft, bringing the boats and crews right into the town centre.
I do not accept the Port’s sweeping generalised statement that navigation is safe in the Creek. The evidence is easily seen at low tide; the deepest part of the channel meanders mostly unmarked between the Creek banks, made worse by the growing mud banks and general silting-up. I believe the creek is not well marked for navigation in all but the very highest tides’ states. If we are to attract more craft (including mine) to the Creek some dredging is essential plus better use and placing of an increased number of buoys and/or other navigation marks.
I do not accept that dredging will produce unacceptably high levels of silt plumes outside of the Creek area and further along the coast. The tidal range and drying nature of the Creek suggests that any silt will drop to the sea bed before it has spread any distance outside the Creek.
Given that most of the Creek dries above chart datum access to the Creek is only possible dependent on vessel draft (approximately) one hour each side of high water for craft drawing e.g. a metre depth. This means that almost all craft must enter and leave the Creek within this short high-water time slot. In turn, this means not only do craft need to know where the deep channel is and its depths, users also need to be confident that the channel is wide enough for two on-coming vessels to safely pass each other over the entire length of the Creek.
The Creek is silting up and narrowing. I believe the above document fully recognises this fact; I have seen significant silting, narrowing and loss of channel depth in the last 7 years alone, this is clear to anyone who visits the Creek. The paper does not make it clear how funding can be found to stop further loss of the unique and historic feature. Attracting more craft to the creek would go some way to providing the funding needed.
A suggestion, should the document consider attracting external commercial investment by identifying an area for potentially developing; an all states of tide or deep water marina some where along the Creek? There is currently no such marina between the Medway and Ramsgate, so this would therefore become a popular and very well used facility.
Could we attract EU funding for the development of the Creek? I believe if linked to commercial benefits, like increasing use of the repair facilities on the Creek this is possible.
Could we attract lottery funding for the protection and maintenance of what is clearly an historic site?
A few thoughts, a Creek maintenance fee could be charged to developers for allowing further development around the Creek which clearly benefit from the Creek as a feature. If the council owned (compulsory purchased) and leased out the land around the Creek for development the annual lease charge could include a fee to maintain the Creek. Or the council tax charged for future developments around the Creek and benefitting from the Creek, even the view (benefits house prices) could include an additional charge for the maintenance of the Creek. Or Council Tax for the whole of Faversham could include an additional separate cost for the upkeep of the Creek.
My last comment, canals in the UK were saved by the help of volunteers organised to restore locks and waterways etc. With the oversight and management of the Faversham Creek Trust could this be considered for the restoration of the Basin area and Creek? I believe this area of the Creek is actually a man made cutting (a canal) anyway?
Yours Faithfully Ken Brigden