Dear Members and Friends,
CREEK NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN – WHERE WE STAND NOW
Thank you to all who came to the Town Council Meeting on Monday 13th last week. You’ll know that our councillors voted to approve the Creek Neighbourhood Plan with some final amendments. So is the new Plan is better than the old one? Briefly:
1. The Plan now acknowledges the central role of the Creek, something we have always advocated; in principle at least, all planning applications must have regard for the function of the Creek as a working waterway.
2. Criteria for planning permission are now based on the size and shape of the buildings as well as the land use, and in particular, the views between neighbouring buildings must conform to an overall framework. This is intended to rule out a continuous façade along the waterfront and give better protection against schemes that would harm the creekside landscape.
But we are concerned that the principles are not reflected in the policies for individual sites such as Standard Quay, Swan Quay and Ordnance Wharf. At Ordnance Wharf, the criteria require that any proposal takes into account the scale and use of the Purifier building: the two sites shouldn’t be regarded independently. But the Plan still allows housing, which we believe is damaging to the Purifier project and the development of the basin generally as a marine hub and recreational resource.
What happens now? Swale Borough Council will undertake a final stage of consultation over the next six weeks before submitting the Plan to the government inspectorate. We shall continue to press for changes, for example, (a) no housing on Ordnance Wharf and (b) better protection for Swan Quay and Standard Quay. We call on the Borough Councillors to have the courage of their convictions and deliver what we all want to see by strengthening the site policies accordingly. If they support the residents, we will support them in return.
You can help by writing to the Leader, Cllr Andrew Bowles, Swale House, East Street, Sittingbourne, Kent ME10 3HT. To be considered as a response to the consultation, all correspondence should be sent within the six week consultation period, from the 7th November till 19th December.
Our colleagues in the Creek Trust and the Brents Community Association have worked hard on the Plan and I want to offer special thanks to three people who for many months have stood in the firing line and under a great deal of pressure defended the Creek and the interests of local residents. They are Sue Akhurst, Brenda Chester, and Hilary Whelan.
With best wishes,