The Faversham Creek Trust and the Brents Community Association welcome the Independent Examiner’s report on the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan.
As you, our Members and Supporters know, we worked closely together to present an alternative view for the regeneration of Faversham Creek, including representing our organisations at the three day Public Hearing in October 2015.
We welcome the Examiner’s recommendation that, subject to the incorporation of all his amendments, the plan may go to referendum with the whole of Faversham being given a vote.
We trust that Faversham Town Council and Swale Borough Council will agree to incorporate all the required changes so that the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan may be brought to referendum without delay. Swale has stated that the referendum will take place in September or October this year.
The Examiner’s Report can be downloaded as a pdf here: Faversham-Creek-NDP-Report-Final
What happens next
The amendments required by the Examiner’s Report will be discussed at the Swale Borough Council Local Development Framework Panel Meeting on Thursday 19th May (7 pm at Swale House). The agenda and papers can be seen here: LDFP Meeting .
This meeting will also discuss proposed modifications to the Swale Local Plan, including significant additional housing development sites for the Faversham area, raising the possible total for the plan period (to 2030) from 905 houses to 1,708, and increase of 89%.
The Planning Officers’ report can be seen here on Page 6.; Public reports pack 19052016 1900 Local Development Framework Panel
Main recommendations in the Report
The Examiner, Mr Timothy Jones, clearly listened carefully and objectively to all sides, and took time to study the Creekside area at all states of the tide, in order to understand it. While he has not accepted all the changes we had put forward, on the whole we believe he has been fair to everyone.
We consider that the changes he has recommended will enable the plan to be seen as a defining document for Faversham’s future, in particular by requiring greater attention to the archaeological importance of the Creek and robust protection of existing important buildings, waterside features and employment opportunities.
It was especially useful to have the Neighbourhood Plan set in the context of the strategic policies B1 and AAP2 of the adopted Swale Local Plan 2008, which focus on employment and protection of the maritime character of the Creek – for which we had consistently argued during the development of the plan.
We are delighted with the Examiner’s recognition of the work being carried out by the Trust at the Purifier Building. This is what he said:
“I was impressed by the use for boatbuilding and for training in maritime skills to which the Purifier Building is being put. I was also impressed with the building itself. This use contributes to sustainability and should be protected both from development on the site and from nearby development that might cause problems for the building continuing its present use. That use is a mixed use that includes B2 use, some of which is in the open air. Bearing in mind my accompanied site visit, I accept Ms Akhurst’s evidence in respect of use.”
Mr Jones has required that the existing policy for the Purifier should be replaced with this one:
“P1: The building and its curtilage are to be used for small business workshops, together with associated educational uses (mixed use B1, B2 and D1.)”
While we are disappointed that Mr Jones has accepted residential development on Ordnance Wharf, we are pleased that he has specified policies which will protect both the Purifier and our archaeological heritage.
Mr Jones has not ruled out any development on Swan Quay, but he has rejected housing. An extract from his recommended changes is:
“Land uses could include offices/workshops (Class B1), maritime general industrial (B2 limited by condition) and a gallery (Class D1) and some limited car parking, but not dwelling houses (Class C3). It may be possible to permit new building consistent with the site’s current character. If so, they should be constructed in yellow stock brickwork and slate roof with metal framed windows.”
The policies for the remaining sites have been accepted, with some changes to Standard House. This will permit housing on the Oil Depot and Coach Depot. Standard Quay is unchanged. Stronger requirements for archaeological investigations apply to these sites.
For the Brents Community Association, Chairman Mike Palmer said: “Working as we do to improve job opportunities for local unemployed people, we are encouraged by the importance the Examiner placed on employment uses. We also appreciate his comments on the Purifier Building, which we have used on our employment courses and where many local residents have worked as volunteers, and his recommendations for Swan Quay, which will help to protect the character of our local area.”
Our two organisations would like to thank the many people who have contributed to our efforts to present alternative ideas for the potential development of the Faversham Creek area, including Dr Pat Reid, Ray Harrison, the Faversham Society, Historic England – and the many hundreds of people from Faversham and further afield who have contributed to the consultations and the debate, and who have given their time and money towards the new Swing Bridge, which is such a vital part of regenerating Faversham Creek.
We are continuing to work with Kent County Council, Swale Borough Council and Faversham Town Council to ensure that Faversham gets an opening bridge again. Both our organisations have a representative on the Steering Group for this project and are closely involved.