Regeneration Plan for Faversham Creek Basin
Since 2011 the Faversham Creek Trust has been working towards a regeneration plan that focuses on the upper part of Faversham Creek above the Brents Swing Bridge. The plan was first submitted to the Local Plan forum of the Creek Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group in November 2012. What appears here is a brief overview, revised for submission to the Faversham Town Council in November 2013.
We believe there is a unique opportunity for change in the centre of this historic town with significant economic and social benefits for residents and visitors alike. Our plan is based on the creation of a viable maritime economic facility, with workshops, moorings and a training school to serve the existing fleet of traditional vessels in the Thames Estuary.
The plan will be a team effort, with combined effort from several stakeholders including a charitable trust, a community association, identified private investors, and local and regional authorities.
The key elements
1. The regeneration of Ordnance Wharf as a single-storey marine workshop with office and community centre with access from Flood Lane, in conformity with the current local plan, the existing conservation area, and the plan now under preparation by the Brents Community Association. A potential purchaser has been confirmed subject to Ordnance Wharf not being re- zoned for housing. Implementation mid-2015.
2. The existing restored Purifier Building to be a training centre for students and apprentices to be run in conjunction with the Ordnance Wharf workshop. The five year plan envisages 18 students with an eventual capacity for 36 students per year. Implementation late 2015. There are also two specialist workshop units and a room for community activities.
3. The restoration of the BMM Weston Creek frontage outside the existing car park with the co- operation of the owner, on a long lease in exchange for the restoration cost. The resulting wharf (with back filling of a new piled frontage from the waterside) will provide moorings for up to ten sailing barges and smacks and a green amenity space along the current footpath. A private company will meet the cost of the operation to commence when the KCC has replaced the current swing bridge.
4. The replacement of the existing swing bridge by a new, opening bridge – by Kent County Council as a collaborative project in partnership with the Borough Council and the Town Council.
5. The repair or replacement of the sluice gates by Medway Ports and their subsequent management and dredging by the Faversham Creek Trust under licence by the authority.
These objectives are in line with feedback received from the May 2012 Creek Neighbourhood Plan exhibition and the June 2013 exhibition, and also with feedback from the Urban Initiatives consultation in 2009. They conform to Neighbourhood Plan objectives 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 11, 13, 15.
The benefits arising from the regeneration are:
- Economic: the generation of new business turnover in marine workshops, training school and mooring fees, with a total annual value of £425,000 excluding indirect benefits.
- Job creation: the plan will create at least 50 new jobs including students and apprentices, but excluding tourism spin-off related employment in the town.
- Social: the regeneration of the Creek basin would remove an eyesore from the centre of the town. It replaces a derelict and unsafe area adjoining a public footpath by a safe waterfront and public space with a view over barges and the town skyline. The repaired or replaced sluice gates would permit water retention in the basin and therefore a safe water area for community activities, sea scouts and sail training not normally available in a tidal creek.
- Heritage: the plan as a whole provides a significant location in the Purifier Building and Ordnance Wharf workshops for a living maritime heritage centre where schoolchildren and visitors to the town can see shipwrights at work and engage with Faversham’s history.
- Visitor numbers: the annual number of visitors to Faversham (15,000 in 2011) would rise by at least 25% as a consequence of a revitalised basin. The experience of Maldon with its smaller resident population but a fleet of ten Thames Barges and 30,000 visitors supports this contention.
We envisage that construction could begin in 2015, preceded by a planning application in 2014. The continued commitment of the KCC to a working bridge to the basin and confirmation of the existing zoning are key conditions to the success of the plan.
Board of Trustees, Faversham Creek Trust – 25 November 2013