This Trust and the Creek, 7 Years on, and the future.

The Faversham Creek Trust was formed early in 2011 by a group of people with a specific interest in the Creek as a maritime asset, to try to change the planning focus away from  creekside residential development that exploited the creek as a free visual asset, adding value to the development but nothing to the Creek

The Creek Neighbourhood Plan was introduced later in 2011 by SBC in an attempt to consolidate and formalise those developments, with the addition of some other industrial sites; not a contiguous plan, more a device for achieving the existing focus.

That Plan was not signed off until 2017 [see May 2017 in Archive], an indication of how contentious it became. Swan Quay was rightly excluded from development, even after judicial revue, and Ordnance Wharf will now have to meet strict criteria for development.

The SECOS oil wharf is in the planning process, for 2 blocks of  4 storey terraces, urban warehouse style without any real architectural merit, concertinaed in to exploit the plot to its maximum; early plans showing a small marina have disappeared, but the cantilevered walkway that utilises some area over the creek, potentially outside the property boundary, remains.

This would permanently prevent any mooring alongside; in fact it creates a hazard to small craft, the absolute opposite of regenerating the creek. This ostensibly meets the NP requirement for a continuous creekside footpath, but which is not actually continuous as the existing Belevedere developments do not have a designated footpath along their promenade waterfront.

It is clear that there is no acceptance of the need to stop hedging in the creek with high buildings, simply to cram in as many houses as possible, to maximise  return. The next block to be added after these will be on the old coach works site and complete the wall of housing right up to Standard Quay; thank goodness for the listed buildings there. It should be noted that there are no affordable house here; these are premium priced resdiences.

Then there is that Bridge. The fact is that the Trust was central to promoting and fundraising £125,000 for it directly from the public [the only funds that are actually in the KCC kitty, the rest are still merely promises] but it is now being kept almost entirely ignorant of what is going on, regardless of any promises to the contrary if it kept quiet and gave KCC time to bridge the gap between the original estimated and funded £900,000 cost and the 150% extra cost quoted by the contractors.

Unfortunately, the result is that other groups have now taken over the initiative, without the constraints it signed up to. A promise from Paul Carter, Leader of KCC, that there will certainly be an opening bridge, is a good result,  even though the timescales are unknown, but still no word on progress.

So whilst the Trust might appear to be sidelined, this has led to certain people hinting that the Faversham Creek Trust has gone. IT HAS NOT. In fact it is very active and meeting its charitable objectives, including a major role in organising the Nautical Festival, and running Boat Camp for pupils of the Abbey School, as well as continuing to manage the restored Purifier Building that hosts the Shipwright Training scheme, now joined up with the Pilot Cutter project in Truro.

Meanwhile a small team of Trust members looked closely at the design and installation costs and proposed to KCC an alternative approach. The Trust has recently been assured that all is going well, progress is being made, including consideration of the Trust’s proposals, and an announcement is soon to be made. We can only wait and see…

The question is often asked; what is the role of the Statutory Harbour Authority, Peel Ports, London and Medway, in all this. The SHA has rights and duties; it can collect Conservancy fees from all vessels in the Creek; it also has certain duties to maintain the waterway for the benefit of all vessels, especially those from whom it extracts dues. It is unreasonable for them to argue that as there is no commercial traffic now, they can simply walk away from the Port of Faversham, allowing the waterway and their assets, the bridge [shared with KCC] and gates, to become derelict.

The responsibility for dredging has already been taken over by a Community Interest company, the Faversham Creek Navigation Co. but there are other signs of degradation; Town Quay and the Hazard, a listed building owned by SBC; Swan Quay, deliberately degraded after failing the judicial review, in the absence of creative solutions for it future, even though that might not immediately return the same as two 4 storey residential blocks; the town stagings condemned through lack of maintenance, with no immediate plans for replacement. Ordnance Wharf, no published plans for it future… and until there is certainty of access to the Basin, it is not financially justifiable to dredge it, nor  restore the BMM Weston Wharf.

So most of the top of the creek, apart from the Purifier Building and Morrisons, and some old converted and new buildings on Belvedere, continues in a state of dereliction.

Some members of the Trust have been working for the last 7 years to achieve its aims, with huge support from members and volunteers and others; sometimes against oppositions, official and unofficial; we have made friends and lost friends; some of the opposition has included the worst kind of political trickery. All of the support has been of the best kind; this Trust has tried to weave a path through all this for the benefit of the Creek and the Town.

The Trust will always benefit from new members and volunteers with new ideas, enthusiasm and energy. Faversham and this amazing Creek still needs you…

This article is a personal view and does not reflect the official views of the Truct.

 

 

as a street

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