Category Archives: Standard Quay

Respond to SQ Restaurant Appeal by Monday 16th.

Response to grounds of appeal, proposal for restaurant on Standard Quay, Faversham; 

Case: 01675 -application SW/12/1523 – Appeal reference APP/V2255/A/13/2202894

The above reference must be quoted in the subject of the e-mail and on each attachment. Send responses by e-mail to:     TeamP1@pins.gsi.gov.uk.

Emails must reach the planning inspectorate by Monday September 16th

Or you can comment direct on the Planning Portal at;

http://www.pcs.planningportal.gov.uk/pcsportal/ViewCase.asp?caseid=2202894&coid=65544

If you want to comment on the proposal for a restaurant, with exhibition rooms upstairs, in the Black shed, then you should write your own submission but you can use the Summary below as a guide only – please do not just copy it as it is likely to be discounted. The full FCT submission will be available shortly.

With planning appeals it is important that submissions focus on the Grounds of Appeal, so the same headings have been used with the addition of Flooding and Neighbourhood Plan.

Summary

The entire appeal is predicated upon the assumption that conversion to a restaurant is the only viable use for the building and the only way to preserve its structure. This is demonstrably untrue.

Viable maritime businesses were conducted recently from the building for almost two decades. They ceased not because they were unviable, but because appellant evicted the shipwrights company, refusing to renew the lease, having spent several years attempting to get them out prior to the end of their lease.  The appellant has since made no attempt to replace them with similar activities.

The previous business had plans for expansion as it had secured additional grant funding to expand its apprenticeship scheme. The demand for such work still exists, and would provide a sustainable, viable use for the building which would be more appropriate to the building, its setting, as a group of listed buildings and the maritime heritage of the town.

There are very many buildings which are more suitable for use as restaurants, but very few sites for the type of maritime heritage work for which Standard Quay, and this building in particular, are ideally suited. This maritime use would require no damaging changes to the building or its setting within the conservation area; it would not increase traffic, parking or emergency access problems, it would not generate night-time use of the site, and it would be far more flood-resilient.

In our view the report of the Highways engineer was less than adequate, in that no traffic counts were undertaken, so therefore no environmental impact study carried out, in a conservation area with one of the finest medieval streets in the South East which narrows to single track as it joins with Standard Quay.  The engineer also based his comments on evening opening only for the restaurant which is not the case.

This proposed change of use for Building 1 in this application is totally contrary to the consensus of the public response to recent proposals illustrated at an exhibition as part of the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan process, part of the Governments Localism agenda. The response was overwhelmingly in favour of retaining Standard Quay as a maritime area for the repair and restoration of boats and as a vital element in the regeneration of this ancient Cinque Port limb, providing sustainable benefits to the local economy.  This public consensus on Standard Quay will be fed into the development of the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan now underway.

Allowing the appellant to use this building as a restaurant, art gallery and function room would prejudice the outcome of the Neighbourhood Plan and his application is premature at best.

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

SBC REJECTS RESTAURANT IN A BLACK SHED

Tonight, SBC Planning Committee unanimously rejected the planning application for the conversion of the No 1 Black Shed on Standard Quay, into a windowless restaurant and museum, with a windowed gallery upstairs.

It was described by one councillor as a Red Herring; another replied that there should be no Red Herrings served there and another concluded that eating them in a windowless restaurant would not be to their taste, even though the only things left to be seen outside would be a few parked cars.

There was a reservation about the future of the shed were it not used as a restaurant; would the recently departed maritime activities return. The answer is, of course , yes, given the right management and pricing.

URGENT TONIGHT ALL POSSIBLE TO ATTEND SQ PLANNING MTG 7PM SWALE HS

WE URGENTLY NEED AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE TO GO TO THE PLANNING MEETING AT SWALE HOUSE TONIGHT AT 7.00pm.

ALTHOUGH NO-ONE CAN SPEAK, IT IS VITALLY IMPORTANT TO CONTINUE TO SHOW THE STRENGTH OF INTEREST, AND OPPOSITION, IN THIS MATTER.

AN APPEAL HAS BEEN MADE TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR COMMUNITIES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT, RT HON ERIC PICKLES MP, REQUESTING THAT HE CALLS IN THIS APPLICATION FOR HIS CONSIDERATION AND INSPECTION, AND THE SWALE PLANNING COMMITTEE HAS BEEN SO NOTIFIED.

STANDARD QUAY STORY

THE WAY IT WAS IN HISTORY

5_HISTORY S.QUAY

THE WAY IT WAS UNTIL 2011

STANDARD QUAY

THE WAY IT WAS PLANNED – AND STILL COULD BE

10_SQ VISION

THE WAY IT IS PLANNED – AS A CAR PARK

SQ Parking Drg-9609256

REMEMBER STANDARD QUAY

STANDARD QUAY rememberedSBC Planning Committee meets at 10.30 Monday 29th to find out what Standard Quay was all about, and could be again. We will be there to tell them.  All are welcome for support.

SQ Black Shed Restaurant- Decision deferred for Site Visit 29th 10.30am

At Thursday’s planning meeting, a decision was deferred until councillors had conducted a visit to Standard Quay. See this film for reactions after the meeting, with thanks to Richard Fleury;

http://www.thequayfilm.net/?cat=1

Anybody can attend and those who submitted comments will have received notice from Swale. However, to be effective, it is important that a limited number of informed representatives with prepared statements need to take the lead. It is also equally important to try to ensure that as many councillors as possible  attend, especially those who are not from Faversham.

So, an email to all the Planning Committee members saying it’s important to make the effort to go and see the Quay, and visualise it, not just as it is now but how it was until two years ago, and can be again. Give a link to the The Quay film, and ask them to look at it, and at this website.   Email addresses: