Category Archives: Neighbourhood Plan

Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan

SWAN QUAY Judicial Review Decision

We are very pleased to pass on the news that we have just received. Today the decision of the Judicial Review into Swan Quay was announced, and Mr Justice Dove dismissed the case of the applicant.
The judgement enables Swale Borough Council to take the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan to referendum, with no housing on Swan Quay. If the people of Faversham vote to accept the referendum, Swale Borough Council will release their contribution of £200,000 towards the new Swing Bridge, and the Swing Bridge construction will be able to go ahead.
The full judgement is shown below.

“London’s High Court ruled today on the planning future of the historic Swan Quay at Faversham.

Mr Justice Dove, one of the country’s top judges, dismissed a challenge by developers to a planning inspector’s ruling which blocked residential development at the creek.

The inspector’s decision came after leading conservation group, Historic England and local campaigners argued that residential development would lead to “gentrification” of the area, be “harmful to the historic character of Faversham Creek” and hit small business owners locally.

Swan Quay LLP’s lawyers argued that the inspector was not entitled to take the stance he did in a bid to protect the area from “gentrification” through residential redevelopment.

The inspector had been called in to approve the development plan for the area. He approved it but sided with the conservationists and wrote in the ban on residential development.

The plan had been due to go to a public referendum in October, but the action taken by the land owners has thrown the referendum timetable into disarray.

Swan Quay had argued when the case was heard earlier this month that a neighbourhood development plan expressly banning residential development on the site was unlawful.

However, Mr Justice Dove ruled today that the inspector had explained his reasons for imposing the ban, and held that the inspector’s decision had been a clear exercise of “planning judgment”.

He refused Swan Quay’s request for the ban on residential development to be removed from the development plan before it goes to a local referendum.

The judge said that the inspector had “fully explained” his reasons, which included concerns about potential loss of employment land at Swan Quay and increased residential development being “harmful to the historic character of the Creek”.

He said that while the term “gentrification” was not an official planning use term, it did not need to be. The inspector could take into account its meaning as “erosion” of traditional uses by the introduction of “historically unprecedented and inconsistent use that would bring with it a different aesthetic which would harm the historic character”.

Neighbourhood Plan Consultation Ends Monday 22nd

The Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan is in its final stage of Statutory Consultation before being presented to the Independent Examiner.

The consultation ends at 5 p.m. on Monday, 22 December 2014.

You can read the Submission Plan, Consultation Statement and Basic Condition Statement online through Swale Borough Council’s Website:

http://favershamcreektrust.us2.list-manage2.com/track/click?u=2c99a8cc80d59b8ac0435b826&id=4fee3b0e04&e=91931253db

Faversham Creek Trust and the Brents Community Association are jointly submitting a detailed document, which you can read here: 

http://favershamcreektrust.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=2c99a8cc80d59b8ac0435b826&id=e8c70cf65a&e=91931253db

We are not opposed to a Neighbourhood Plan for this area. We have always tried to work with the statutory bodies to achieve a plan that will truly benefit the Creek and the town, and will have the support of the community. We fear that the Plan that has been submitted would not deliver the kind of regeneration of the Creek that our members and many other members of the community have said they would like to see.

Our response addresses many procedural and statutory deficiencies in the way that the plan has been compiled. A major defect is that the opinions and constructive suggestions from members of our two organisations and many other people in the community have been largely ignored. The Basic Conditions Statement which accompanies the Plan claims ‘That the plan has broad local support from the residents, notwithstanding specific objections to certain aspects.’ Yet in the official consultation, under 30% of respondents said that they agreed with the plan as it stands.

The points under contention have not been changed. If you were one of the 70% who said they did not agree with the plan, now is the time to tell them again that you disagree.

For example, on Ordnance Wharf, the Consultation Statement says there was ‘overwhelming support for Option B’ (non-residential use). Yet the Submission Plan allows residential use on this site. People’s strong views on other sites, particularly Swan Quay and Standard Quay, have also been ignored.

Please either send your own comments on this Submission Plan, and/or endorse our document (the link is above) if you agree with the points that we make.

Email:   planningpolicy@swale.gov.uk

or write to the Planning Policy Manager at Swale Borough Council.

Your comments must be received by Monday, 22 December at 5 p.m.

Thank you for your support.

ORDNANCE WHARF AND THE CREEK NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN

EXTRAORDINARY MEETING OF THE TOWN COUNCIL

MONDAY 13th 7pm QE SCHOOL

Many of you will know that at the meeting last Tuesday, the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group signed off the final draft of the Creek Neighbourhood Plan. It is better than the original but there are some flaws, the most crucial being that residential development on Ordnance Wharf is still permitted.

Ordnance Wharf stands at the focal point of the Creek Basin where the centre of the marine hub will be when the bridge opens. A residential element would contribute little to the housing shortage and would severely hamper the Purifier project. The Council’s consultant appears to believe that housing, a community centre, and shipbuilding can all be accommodated on one small site, and seems not to recognise that a designation that permits housing will raise the commercial value of the land to a level that effectively prices out all other uses.

So as it stands, the Plan puts much of the work carried out by volunteers on the project, together with the contributions of well-wishers throughout the Town, at risk. Would it not be better if the Council supported their efforts? What would it cost them to amend the designation for one site?

The Mayor has called an Extraordinary Meeting of the Town Council to approve the Plan. It will take place at 7 pm on Monday 13 October at the Queen Elizabeth grammar School. I know we all have other things to do, but this time the whole Town Council will be involved, and they can’t be wholly insensitive to the implications of what is being proposed.

The meeting will also consider the question of an opening bridge, which could unlock the potential of the Basin and increase the flow of private investment into the project. We don’t know what the Mayor is going to propose and it could be vital.

It is important that as many people as possible attend this meeting, to ensure that the Town Council understand that the issues are important to a broad cross-section of the residents of Faversham, regardless of their particular views.

Chris Wright  –  Chairman Faversham Creek Trust

Extraordinary Town Council Mtg at QE Monday 13th 7pm

This meeting is an Extraordinary meeting of the Faversham Town Council, at

the QE School, not the Guildhall

To consider the minutes of the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group meetings held on 25 September and 7 October and its recommendations for the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan (minutes of 25 September attached; draft Plan and minutes of 7 October to follow).

To consider the future of the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group.

To consider the Creek Bridge.

The revised Draft Plan is on the previous post.

Tuesday’s Neighbourhood Plan Public Meeting at QE School

The venue for the NP meeting is now at the QE School.

The following revised documents are available for review, and will be discussed at that meeting.

7 October 2014 Agenda

119_Q_141005_Consultation-Statement_DRAFT

119_Q_141005_Revised-Plan_DRAFT

119_D_141005_Morrison-ShepherdNeame_DRAFT.JPG119_D_141005_Morrison-ShepherdNeame_DRAFT

 

The Draft Plan, the Alternative Plan, and the Town Council

Various options for the Swan Quay, Coach Depot and Oil Depot sites together with alternative strategies were recently excluded from the consultation draft of the Neighbourhood Plan. However an undertaking was given (both at a Steering Group meeting and a Faversham Town Council meeting) that alternative proposals would be sought as part of the consultation process.

The Brents Community Association and this Trust felt it was difficult for people to make informed and meaningful responses without knowing what the alternatives were, and the reasoning behind them. We also wanted to consult our membership (as we are required to do by the Steering Group’s Terms of Reference) before putting forward our own responses to the consultation.

We therefore decided to mount an exhibition for our members and for the public. It set out a different strategy together with alternative options alongside those in the draft Plan. BMM Weston joined us to consult on the company’s plans for redevelopment of its sites and regeneration of the Creek basin.

Throughout, we encouraged the public to engage with the Town Council’s consultation and complete the Questionnaire, partly through flyers that gave links to the Council’s website and details of the Council’s events.

With the help of an independent expert we developed a questionnaire survey which people were invited to complete before leaving our exhibition (copy attached). An online version is also available. As of 28th June, 840 people had attended the various exhibition sessions and just over half (450) had completed the survey.

Our survey analysis, to be carried out in accordance with independent professional advice, will not be completed until after the final exhibition session on 28 June; however the interim findings show some striking trends. In particular, the large majority (86%) of respondents favoured a regeneration strategy based on business, boats and community facilities, compared with under 2% in favour of a strategy focused on housing and footpaths. The remainder were uncertain or suggested various combinations.

This reflects previous consultations in 2012 and 2013, when the majority of people were clear that they did not want a plan for the Creek that prioritised waterfront housing.

What remains is for the Town Council to decide whether to reinstate our two organisations into the Steering Group, along with our evidence based mission to ensure that these findings are reflected in the Neighbourhood Plan, or whether to continue to reject alternatives to the current Draft Plan.

R. Telford

 

The Truth about the NPPF

A STATEMENT FROM THE FAVERSHAM CREEK TRUST AND THE BRENTS COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION

In a letter to the Faversham News about the Neighbourhood Plan (June 12), steering group chairman Nigel Kay complained that people were given misleading information about what is possible and what is not.

Unfortunately, the information he himself provided was misleading.

DELIVERABILITY

Before it is allowed to go to a referendum, the Plan will have to be approved by an independent examiner. Mr Kay says that alternative proposals cannot be considered by the steering group without business plans and financial information, because theses will be required by the examiner as evidence that the Plan is deliverable.

This is not correct. A study of successful neighbourhood plans shows that examiners do not ask for such evidence, nor are they entitled to do so. “The legislation does not permit me to examine the soundness or quality of the plan,” says one of them. (And if Mr Kay truly believes that such evidence is necessary, why has he not demanded it for all the “official” proposals? There is much less information on those in the public domain than there is on alternative options.)

WHAT THE NPPF SAYS

This is how the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), paragraph 173, explains deliverability: “The sites and the scale of development identified in the plan should not be subject to such a scale of obligations and policy burdens that their ability to be delivered viably is threatened.”

So, for example, a plan may have policies on affordable housing quotas, or sustainable building standards, or financial contributions that developers have to pay: if these are too demanding, it could be deemed undeliverable.

VIABILITY

There is a distinction between:

(a) viability in the context of MAKING a plan, which is what concerns us now. This applies to the plan as a whole rather than individual sites: in principle, the policies should not hinder the kind of development that would be needed to achieve the desired outcome – eg, by imposing conditions that would make development so difficult or expensive that it would be unlikely to happen), and

(b) viability in the context of USING a plan, which is what happens when a specific planning application is made for a particular site: in practice, if the development is in general accordance with the plan but policy conditions make it impossible for a “reasonable” landowner/developer to make a fair return by current market standards, those conditions may be relaxed – for example, developers may be allowed a lower proportion of affordable housing than is laid down in the plan.

LANDOWNER AGREEMENT

Independent examiners of Neighbourhood Plans do not demand agreement from each individual landowner. Some neighbourhood plans have barely consulted landowners at all; the examiner of the plan for Thame (Oxfordshire) points out that there is no statutory requirement to do so. Some plans that were actively opposed by landowners and developers have nevertheless succeeded at examination – and, in the case of Tattenhall (Cheshire), at a subsequent judicial inquiry.

Examiners have accepted that delivery may involve future negotiations with landowners during the lifetime of the plan. For example, the plan for Kirdford (West Sussex) has a 15-year table showing timescales and priorities and what actions will be needed at various stages, including landowner negotiations.

PLAN PERIOD

The Faversham Creek plan has no such sense of timescale. The staging of delivery has never been discussed. It doesn’t even say what period it’s meant to cover, though this is a legal requirement (section 38B of the 2004 Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act) and examiners can get quite stroppy if it’s left out.

Without timescales it’s impossible to judge feasibility. Something that might be not be achievable in five years may well be achievable in ten or fifteen.

MISINFORMATION?

Mr Kay and some other members of the steering group frequently assert that those proposing alternative ideas for the Creek are an unrepresentative and ill-informed minority who do not understand the realities of neighbourhood planning.

In fact, these alternative ideas are in line with the majority views expressed at public consultations, and their proponents have done a great deal of research into the rules and regulations, and to what is happening in practice with neighbourhood plans elsewhere (there are lots of them in progress and, at the time of writing, 17 have succeeded at referendum).

The Faversham Creek Trust’s steering group representative took the trouble to attend a three-day planning camp to understand more about the process – how many other steering group members have shown such commitment? Others have studied successful plans and their examiners’ reports to see what can be learned from them. They are all different, but there are common themes.

One thing examiners consistently look for is evidence that there has been open and meaningful community engagement and properly considered responses to consultation feedback.

It will be interesting to see their reaction to the Faversham Creek Plan.