Various options for the Swan Quay, Coach Depot and Oil Depot sites together with alternative strategies were recently excluded from the consultation draft of the Neighbourhood Plan. However an undertaking was given (both at a Steering Group meeting and a Faversham Town Council meeting) that alternative proposals would be sought as part of the consultation process.
The Brents Community Association and this Trust felt it was difficult for people to make informed and meaningful responses without knowing what the alternatives were, and the reasoning behind them. We also wanted to consult our membership (as we are required to do by the Steering Group’s Terms of Reference) before putting forward our own responses to the consultation.
We therefore decided to mount an exhibition for our members and for the public. It set out a different strategy together with alternative options alongside those in the draft Plan. BMM Weston joined us to consult on the company’s plans for redevelopment of its sites and regeneration of the Creek basin.
Throughout, we encouraged the public to engage with the Town Council’s consultation and complete the Questionnaire, partly through flyers that gave links to the Council’s website and details of the Council’s events.
With the help of an independent expert we developed a questionnaire survey which people were invited to complete before leaving our exhibition (copy attached). An online version is also available. As of 28th June, 840 people had attended the various exhibition sessions and just over half (450) had completed the survey.
Our survey analysis, to be carried out in accordance with independent professional advice, will not be completed until after the final exhibition session on 28 June; however the interim findings show some striking trends. In particular, the large majority (86%) of respondents favoured a regeneration strategy based on business, boats and community facilities, compared with under 2% in favour of a strategy focused on housing and footpaths. The remainder were uncertain or suggested various combinations.
This reflects previous consultations in 2012 and 2013, when the majority of people were clear that they did not want a plan for the Creek that prioritised waterfront housing.
What remains is for the Town Council to decide whether to reinstate our two organisations into the Steering Group, along with our evidence based mission to ensure that these findings are reflected in the Neighbourhood Plan, or whether to continue to reject alternatives to the current Draft Plan.