Category Archives: Gates Sluices

The Trust’s Regeneration Plan for the Basin in 2013

The Regeneration Plan for Faversham Creek Basin

has not really changed since 2013

Read how we saw the Bridge then

Summary

Since 2011 the Faversham Creek Trust has been working towards a regeneration plan that focuses on the upper part of Faversham Creek above the Brents Swing Bridge. The plan was first submitted to the Local Plan forum of the Creek Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group in November 2012. What appears here is a brief overview, revised for submission to the Faversham Town Council in November 2013.

We believe there is a unique opportunity for change in the centre of this historic town with significant economic and social benefits for residents and visitors alike. Our plan is based on the creation of a viable maritime economic facility, with workshops, moorings and a training school to serve the existing fleet of traditional vessels in the Thames Estuary.

The plan will be a team effort, with combined effort from several stakeholders including a charitable trust, a community association, identified private investors, and local and regional authorities.

The key elements

1. The regeneration of Ordnance Wharf as a single-storey marine workshop with office and community centre with access from Flood Lane, in conformity with the current local plan, the existing conservation area, and the plan now under preparation by the Brents Community Association. A potential purchaser has been confirmed subject to Ordnance Wharf not being re- zoned for housing. Implementation mid-2015.

Basin drawings 3 Ben White Nov13

2. The existing restored Purifier Building to be a training centre for students and apprentices to be run in conjunction with the Ordnance Wharf workshop. The five year plan envisages 18 students with an eventual capacity for 36 students per year. Implementation late 2015. There are also two specialist workshop units and a room for community activities.

Basin drawings 2 Ben White Nov13

3. The restoration of the BMM Weston Creek frontage outside the existing car park with the co- operation of the owner, on a long lease in exchange for the restoration cost. The resulting wharf (with back filling of a new piled frontage from the waterside) will provide moorings for up to ten sailing barges and smacks and a green amenity space along the current footpath. A private company will meet the cost of the operation to commence when the KCC has replaced the current swing bridge.

Basin drawings 1 Ben White Nov13

4. The replacement of the existing swing bridge by a new, opening bridge – by Kent County Council as a collaborative project in partnership with the Borough Council and the Town Council.

5. The repair or replacement of the sluice gates by Medway Ports and their subsequent management and dredging by the Faversham Creek Trust under licence by the authority.

The Lifting Bridge opening at High Tide for an awaiting barge, with another waiting to come out.Basin drawings 4 Ben White Nov13

These objectives are in line with feedback received from the May 2012 Creek Neighbourhood Plan exhibition and the June 2013 exhibition, and also with feedback from the Urban Initiatives consultation in 2009. They conform to Neighbourhood Plan objectives 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 11, 13, 15.

The benefits

The benefits arising from the regeneration are:

  1. Economic: the generation of new business turnover in marine workshops, training school and mooring fees, with a total annual value of £425,000 excluding indirect benefits.
  2. Job creation: the plan will create at least 50 new jobs including students and apprentices, but excluding tourism spin-off related employment in the town.
  3. Social: the regeneration of the Creek basin would remove an eyesore from the centre of the town. It replaces a derelict and unsafe area adjoining a public footpath by a safe waterfront and public space with a view over barges and the town skyline. The repaired or replaced sluice gates would permit water retention in the basin and therefore a safe water area for community activities, sea scouts and sail training not normally available in a tidal creek.
  4. Heritage: the plan as a whole provides a significant location in the Purifier Building and Ordnance Wharf workshops for a living maritime heritage centre where schoolchildren and visitors to the town can see shipwrights at work and engage with Faversham’s history.
  5. Visitor numbers: the annual number of visitors to Faversham (15,000 in 2011) would rise by at least 25% as a consequence of a revitalised basin. The experience of Maldon with its smaller resident population but a fleet of ten Thames Barges and 30,000 visitors supports this contention.

Implementation

We envisage that construction could begin in 2015, preceded by a planning application in 2014. The continued commitment of the KCC to a working bridge to the basin and confirmation of the existing zoning are key conditions to the success of the plan.

Board of Trustees, Faversham Creek Trust – 25 November 2013

Advertisements

The Trust’s Regeneration Plan for the Basin

Regeneration Plan for Faversham Creek Basin

Summary

Since 2011 the Faversham Creek Trust has been working towards a regeneration plan that focuses on the upper part of Faversham Creek above the Brents Swing Bridge. The plan was first submitted to the Local Plan forum of the Creek Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group in November 2012. What appears here is a brief overview, revised for submission to the Faversham Town Council in November 2013.

We believe there is a unique opportunity for change in the centre of this historic town with significant economic and social benefits for residents and visitors alike. Our plan is based on the creation of a viable maritime economic facility, with workshops, moorings and a training school to serve the existing fleet of traditional vessels in the Thames Estuary.

The plan will be a team effort, with combined effort from several stakeholders including a charitable trust, a community association, identified private investors, and local and regional authorities.

The key elements

1. The regeneration of Ordnance Wharf as a single-storey marine workshop with office and community centre with access from Flood Lane, in conformity with the current local plan, the existing conservation area, and the plan now under preparation by the Brents Community Association. A potential purchaser has been confirmed subject to Ordnance Wharf not being re- zoned for housing. Implementation mid-2015.

Basin drawings 3 Ben White Nov13

2. The existing restored Purifier Building to be a training centre for students and apprentices to be run in conjunction with the Ordnance Wharf workshop. The five year plan envisages 18 students with an eventual capacity for 36 students per year. Implementation late 2015. There are also two specialist workshop units and a room for community activities.

Basin drawings 2 Ben White Nov13

3. The restoration of the BMM Weston Creek frontage outside the existing car park with the co- operation of the owner, on a long lease in exchange for the restoration cost. The resulting wharf (with back filling of a new piled frontage from the waterside) will provide moorings for up to ten sailing barges and smacks and a green amenity space along the current footpath. A private company will meet the cost of the operation to commence when the KCC has replaced the current swing bridge.

Basin drawings 1 Ben White Nov13

4. The replacement of the existing swing bridge by a new, opening bridge – by Kent County Council as a collaborative project in partnership with the Borough Council and the Town Council.

5. The repair or replacement of the sluice gates by Medway Ports and their subsequent management and dredging by the Faversham Creek Trust under licence by the authority.

The Lifting Bridge opening at High Tide for an awaiting barge, with another waiting to come out.Basin drawings 4 Ben White Nov13

These objectives are in line with feedback received from the May 2012 Creek Neighbourhood Plan exhibition and the June 2013 exhibition, and also with feedback from the Urban Initiatives consultation in 2009. They conform to Neighbourhood Plan objectives 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 11, 13, 15.

The benefits

The benefits arising from the regeneration are:

  1. Economic: the generation of new business turnover in marine workshops, training school and mooring fees, with a total annual value of £425,000 excluding indirect benefits.
  2. Job creation: the plan will create at least 50 new jobs including students and apprentices, but excluding tourism spin-off related employment in the town.
  3. Social: the regeneration of the Creek basin would remove an eyesore from the centre of the town. It replaces a derelict and unsafe area adjoining a public footpath by a safe waterfront and public space with a view over barges and the town skyline. The repaired or replaced sluice gates would permit water retention in the basin and therefore a safe water area for community activities, sea scouts and sail training not normally available in a tidal creek.
  4. Heritage: the plan as a whole provides a significant location in the Purifier Building and Ordnance Wharf workshops for a living maritime heritage centre where schoolchildren and visitors to the town can see shipwrights at work and engage with Faversham’s history.
  5. Visitor numbers: the annual number of visitors to Faversham (15,000 in 2011) would rise by at least 25% as a consequence of a revitalised basin. The experience of Maldon with its smaller resident population but a fleet of ten Thames Barges and 30,000 visitors supports this contention.

Implementation

We envisage that construction could begin in 2015, preceded by a planning application in 2014. The continued commitment of the KCC to a working bridge to the basin and confirmation of the existing zoning are key conditions to the success of the plan.

Board of Trustees, Faversham Creek Trust – 25 November 2013

Timothy Stevens’ view of the Neighbourhood Plan so far

This view of the Neighbourhood Plan so far, was copied to FCT by the author,  Timothy Stevens OBE, and we have decided to publish it as it fits our policy of publishing  serious views, especially from people who are independent of the Trust. It was addressed to the Clerk to the Faversham Town Council, and we have removed some initial personal greetings.

My letter falls into two parts.  In the first are my reactions to the proposals overall and in the second some views on specific proposals made on  a few of the individual boards.

Reactions to the proposals overall

It is worth remembering that planning is a mechanism for providing a community with a good environment in which to live.  It is against that yardstick that I have attempted to measure these proposals.

By this measure these plans lack vision and are simply not fit for purpose because they do not meet the needs of Faversham in the 21st century.

From the display, visitors without local knowledge would not know that the creek ­made  Faversham, nor would they have any real idea of the importance of the area to the well-being of the town, either now or in the future, let alone in its past history.  It is not stressed that the creek area is relatively tiny and, more importantly, long and thin, so any large-scale development will be visually very intrusive.

There is no more important site in the town yet there is no attempt to put it in its wider context.              

There is remarkable insensitivity to the spirit of the place.  Indeed the proposals show the fatal current tendency of planners/councillors/committees not to be able to leave well alone. If it works, why meddle?  Of the greatest seriousness, the group does not put forward all the possible options for the creek.  Housing is often offered as the only solution for sites; the option of doing nothing for instance is not explored.

Needs of Faversham

The panels offer no discussion about the needs of Faversham: housing, industry, open spaces or positive preservation of its character for tourism.

Yet, given the positioning of the area, unless the town’s needs are precisely defined, its use cannot be planned.  What are the town’s true priorities and how can they be met on this site? Having agreed on the ‘needs’, the issue of how many of them can be met on the creek site can be considered.  It is unlikely that every ‘need’ can be accommodated as some are uncomfortable bedfellows ~ light industry, even ship building and repair do not mix naturally with expensive residential housing.

The site’s historic importance

Although all parties agree on the area’s great historic importance, no detailed archaeological survey of the site has been undertaken, nor has there been a systematic gathering of all documentary resources.  Do we really yet know the significance of Ordnance Wharf: was this the quay from which gunpowder left for Trafalgar?  Would excavation reveal a network of 16thcentury docks?  The uncertainty over the swing bridge epitomises the somewhat amateur nature of this plan.  As yet no one seems to know whether it can be restored, or the responsibilities of the respective parties, such as the KCC and Peel Ports.  This is not a new problem but is of fundamental importance to all considerations about the area.

The immediate past

There is no résumé of the development in the creek area to date: is the existing new build of architectural distinction; has public access to the creek been improved; have the arrangements for increased traffic been successful?  What has it contributed to the meeting the needs of the town. Has it created more jobs?  By even the most modest standards, what has happened already is no cause for celebration.  Why are the current proposals better as they look very much more of the same.

Impact of the proposals

There is no proper impact appraisal.

Traffic and emergency services

Faversham is not good at thinking about traffic.  The council’s decision in the 1930s to encourage industry to locate near Oare, necessitating every heavy vehicle to travel through the town until the Western Link was built (leading to the suffocation of Ospringe) is the best known example of this reluctance to consider the practical consequences of a development.   Have the increased car numbers of these proposals been evaluated?  Can the present street system cope?  Will ambulances and fire engines be able to reach the sites in the case of an emergency?  Are the sewers of Faversham able to cope with more housing in this area and who will pay for any updating?

Housing

There seems to be an assumption in the plans ~ and certainly this is reinforced by the flyer for the exhibition ~ that fitting in housing is a good thing.  Yet, if the number of units is added up, it does not add a significant number to the housing stock and certainly does not provide affordable housing.  The benefits are primarily to a small number of people, and certainly not the community as a whole.  Faversham’s housing needs are better met by jumping the A2 or developing off Love Lane, as has been proposed.

There is no profit or loss study over more housing.  What will this housing do to the viability of the shops in central Faversham?  Why is housing to be preferred to industry?  There may be no demand for industrial space this year, but if we are to recover economically it will be needed later this decade.

Employment

We are told that the creek will be ‘enriched by new business’ but there is no detail given. How many new jobs will be created?  Given that the area available for industry is drastically reduced it seems reasonable to suppose there will be a net loss of skilled job opportunities.

Viability of the proposed development

Throughout, there are references to commercial use, craft workshops, galleries and cafes, but there is no analysis of the viability of the additional retail activity.  Given the growth of charity shops and the number of empty premises in Faversham it is likely that the demand would be spread more thinly making the present town centre shops less viable.  There is a strong argument for vetoing almost all retail activity on the grounds it will make the present shopping centre even less sustainable. What happens in the creek should underpin the existing retail centre.  Under these plans the inevitable conflict between industrial and residential use will almost certainly see the departure of industry within a decade.  A firm stand must be made if Faversham is to remain a balanced community and not become a dormitory.  In the Vision statement we are told:  ‘Faversham Creek is leading the regeneration of the town’ but how it is doing it is far from clear.  Faversham requires tender loving care, not regeneration.

Leisure and Tourism

One of the few certainties about the future is that people will be living longer and are likely to be healthier and better educated than their grandparents.  This audience needs to be wooed.  (In very micro terms, the increased growth in walking has led to a several hundred percent increase in the number of visitors [and income] to Luddenham Church.)

I applaud the statement that we want ‘A place where we enjoy spending time’ but the proposals seem unlikely to deliver this aspiration.  Nothing significant is said about leisure or tourism.

Faversham has many of the right ingredients to benefit from the growth of tourism, notably a relatively well preserved town centre, but it does not have the critical mass yet to score highly with tourists deciding whether or not to visit Faversham, Sandwich or Deal.

Sensitively handled, the creek provides the extra dimension which would give the vital critical mass to Faversham as a tourist destination.  There are for instance a growing number of people who walk into Faversham from Whitstable and then return by train.  Potentially this area is an inexhaustible oil well for the town but if the plans as proposed go ahead it will dry up.  Visitors want ‘the real experience’, hence the success of Big Pit in South Wales.

The housing invasion planned will do incalculable harm to the creek as a visitor attraction.  The tourist is becoming increasingly sophisticated and has an ever-widening range of options so, if the creek does not tick all the boxes, it will not be visited.  Appropriate industrial development such as ship building and repair would enhance the appeal.

Open Space

There are not many towns left where the countryside sweeps virtually into the town centre at one point and is within walking distance of almost every resident.  It lifts the human spirit to walk down Abbey Street and out along the creek with its big skies or to approach the creek from Davington past the Western Works and over the swing bridge.  Since the 1950s the countryside has been pushed back aggressively on every other side of Faversham.  It no longer notably comes in to Stonebridge pond.  These proposals would irredeemably destroy one of Faversham’s greatest assets.  Why is there no discussion about the inclusion of additional open space on the pattern of that on the Front Brents?

The town has grown dramatically in population since the 60s but the provision of additional open space has not kept up.  The plan should allow for more so that the public have easy access.

Funding

Nothing is said about the availability of funding for a more publicly orientated development of the creek or for simply leaving it as is.  This is a serious omission as again it suggests housing is the only way forward.  Ten years ago the Heritage Lottery Fund made a grant of almost a million towards the costs of opening Oare Gunpowder Works Country Park to the public.  It has been a huge success.  Is there any reason to think that HLF would not fund a scheme for the creek which delivers what the town and its inhabitants need and deserve? This is a much more important project.

Comments on the panels

I have limited my remarks to a handful of points.

Objectives

Given the tiny area of the creek, many of these objectives are inevitably fighting each other.  For instance Objective 11 (Provide a range of housing…) fights 7 (Avoid significant harm to areas designated for their ecological importance…) and with the development of Faversham as a tourist destination.  To be successful there need to be far fewer objectives.

Ordnance Wharf Options

The timber walk-way along the frontage of the Shepherd Neame bottling store is an excellent idea.

The view from the creek up to the bushy hill of Davington crowned by the church is one of the great set pieces of Faversham.  Due to the presence of the allotments it has survived relatively unscathed.  It is also the point where tidal water meets the Stonebridge pond water.  As mentioned, the wharf may be that from which Faversham-made gunpowder left to be used in such battles as Trafalgar.

If this was Ironbridge in Shropshire, the wharf would be cherished as the key site in the industrial history of the area.  What is proposed is the construction of housing which compromises the view and destroys this unique site.  As important as being able to make gunpowder was the facility to move the powder safely to the customer; the creek provided the means.

Swan Quay

The gritty character of Faversham that will bring tourists is further squeezed out by these proposals.  The area should be limited to industrial/office/ social use such as the sea cadets. Residential, cafe and gallery use should be excluded.  What is there should be retained and cherished.  The new buildings as elsewhere, particularly at Standard Quay, are out of scale and far too high.  They would irreparably damage the historic townscape.

Standard Quay

Most visitors reach the creek by walking down Abbey Street, or Belvedere Road past the oil depot and the coach depot and then find a wonderfully higgledy piggledy group of buildings that were put up to meet local needs.  It understandably does not have the formal grandeur of Sheerness but is like the fishermen’s huts at Hastings.  What is proposed is a massive clear away and tidy up and the introduction of further housing.  The whole area should remain for commercial use.  What sort of commercial use is more difficult to predict with the country currently being in recession but a long view of at least fifty years has to be taken, and more research done on the nature of future small scale manufacturing.  Once given over to housing it will never again be available for industry and employment.

One of the attractive features of the Oil Depot is that it is low and the sky soars above it.

Standard House

In Caroline Hillier’s The Bulwark Shore of 1982 there is a photograph of this house, then complete with its original dormer windows with the Oyster Bay House beyond.  Why has no repairs notice been served on the owner by the local authority?  It is also worthwhile remembering when considering these proposals that a key principle of heritage legislation is that owners and developers should not benefit from the neglect of historic buildings.  The spirit of the creek will be destroyed if the suggested housing development goes ahead.

Yours sincerely

Timothy Stevens

Creek Neighbourhood Plan Exhibition Sat 8th June

THIS EXHIBITION IS THE LAST PUBLIC CONSULTATION 

IT IS ABSOLUTELY VITAL THAT EVERYONE TAKES THIS OPPORTUNITY TO LOOK AT THE PRESENTATIONS AND SAY WHAT YOU THINK.

According to the minutes of the steering group meeting on 14 March, this will “probably be the last time for options to be presented to the public for their comments”.

viewer

 

An artist has been commissioned to produce a set of master plan perspectives: a view of the inner basin from the bridge; a view of the creek from Crab Island back to the bridge; a view from Waterside looking up the creek, taking in Standard Quay, the oil depot and the former coach depot.

In addition there will be thumbnail sketches of Standard House, Swan Quay from across the creek, and the bridge. At least one of the master plans will include a sketch of an open bridge.

For Ordnance Wharf there will be four sketches showing different structural designs (two different heights and two different sets of materials).

Good News – Sluice now flushing the Creek

Thanks to work recently completed by Medway Ports, the sluice shutter on the Creek Bridge gate is now opening automatically at each low tide, sending a surge of water down to purge the gutway of the Creek.

The effectiveness is being monitored by Medway Ports to establish whether a second shutter should be used to increase the flow.

At present, the flow moves across to the Town Quay side, before straightening up down the gut, but a second shutter, on the other gate, might straighten this up. By alternating  shutters, it might be possible to purge the wider area here.

Going going almost gone

Medway ports are also planning for the gates to be opened in time for the Nautical Festival,  21-22 July – see separate post.