The Faversham Society does not support the development of a restaurant in Building 1 of Standard Quay. The Society is disappointed that there is to be further gentrification at Standard Quay and that this important quayside townscape is being developed in the way that it is, the extent of car parking and retail in the areas around these iconic buildings detracts from them. The development of the restaurant will further detract from the conservation area and an important part of Faversham’s maritime heritage is being lost as the quayside becomes a shopping and café/restaurant area. There are also legitimate concerns about the increasing flow of traffic in Abbey Street and a significant flood risk.
The best use for a conserved building is one as close as possible to its original use. A restaurant is far from that. Both the Society’s Planning Committee and the Board have spent time carefully examining the proposal. We have published the outcome of discussions in the Planning Committee (see below). The Board considered the Planning Committee’s analysis and with regret decided not to object to the planning application. Whilst we see no grounds for rejecting the planning application on planning grounds, and do not wish to see the Council required to pay further compensation to the developer, this does not mean that we support the application.
The Planning Inspector’s Decision in January 2014 rejected Swale’s case except on heritage conservation grounds. He pointed out that the “workmanship and utilitarian nature of the building envelope exemplified by the rough and ready quality of its finishes and internal spaces, all contribute to its special architectural interest and to its historic character as part of the wharf.” The Inspector further pointed to the importance of the building’s “form and finishes …which evokes the long history of the quay..”
The Inspector expressed concern that in order to turn the building into a restaurant, the overall nature of the building would change and that “the overall nature of the building and of the conservation area would be significantly damaged.” The Swale Conservation Officer has secured detailed specifications, in the Heritage Statement, on the internal form and finishing and the Board consequently saw no grounds for rejecting the application. The focus now shifts to compliance with the conditions placed on the planning permission.
The Society has invited Swale Planners and Enforcement Officers to a members’ evening in the Fleur Hall on February 16th at 19:30. We shall be discussing the Council’s approach to planning compliance and enforcement and we shall be pressing the Council to ensure that all the details so carefully defined in the application will be enforced. In our view conditions should be attached to the decision – if the decision is to allow the application – and those conditions should be detailed, robust and enforced.
The Society will object where we can identify planning grounds, once the planning permission passes the issue is compliance. This may be an example where planning has secured good design – the proof will be in the degree of compliance. If the restaurant were to fail there may well be an application for change of use or further gentrification. The Society will remain vigilant.