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