1993 to date Periodic maintenance work by KCC Highways Department and Peel Ports has kept the bridge safe for traffic, although surveys indicate the lifespan is short.

2004  A clear statement of the situation regarding ownership of the Bridge and consideration of possible options for its future was submitted to KCC, urging resolution. These issues have not yet been resolved.

2005 – 2015  Faversham Creek Consortium was set up by SBC “to promote co-ordination among groups interested in the regeneration of Faversham Creek”.

2011 Faversham Creek Trust was set up with the objective of regenerating Faversham’s maritime heritage – FCT has campaigned for the opening of a bridge and Creekside land to be allocated for maritime use ever since.

2012  KCC commissioned the Jacobs Report, which calculated £710,000 to replace the bridge. The estimated life span of an existing road bridge was approximately 10 years (to 2022).

2013 to date Bridge Steering Group (BSG) was set up, with associated Technical Advisory Group, membership from KCC, Kent Highways, Faversham Town Council, Swale Borough Council, Faversham Creek Trust, and other community members, meeting quarterly or more frequently.

2013 – 2015 Amey, the civil engineering contractor, estimated £960,000 to replace the bridge, excluding ancillary costs, which KCC estimated at £50-100k. Highways obtained legal opinion to clarify respective responsibilities and ownership between KCC and Peel Ports. A local engineering company was ready and willing to construct the bridge within the budget, subcontracting to Amey. 

2015 KCC needed to raise the money to build the bridge, estimated at 900k. They committed to pay the fixed bridge share – £400k, and asked SBC to pay £20k, FTC £175k and the balance of £125k to come from fund raising, with a deadline of 30/09/15. SBC and FTC imposed conditions including passing of a Neighbourhood Plan at referendum. Faversham Creek Trust raised the money in five months, from community donations, events, and charitable trusts, meeting the challenge.

2015 Highways undertook to commence replacement works in Autumn 2016 based on a bridge life of 3 years (no explanation was given for a reduction from 10 years in 2012).

2016 During 2016 at various meetings, Highways told the BSG that the project timeline had slipped a year, and that design work was commissioned, tendering would take place in November 2016 to March 2017, and work would start in April 2017. They contracted Amey to produce a very detailed tender document and went through the procedures of inviting interested companies to tender for the work. By this time none of the KCC engineers and managers who were actively involved from the outset were still employed by KCC, and none of the senior people at Medway Ports who had been involved were employed at Medway Ports.

2017  The KCC Director of Economic Development became involved, meeting Peel Ports with SBC Interim Head of Regeneration. The deadline for completion of the new bridge was now the end of 2018. A tender document was published in Spring 2017 with a deadline for tenders of mid-June. Tenders were evaluated from July 2017, with KCC Highways now saying that 125 years whole-life cost must be included, plus funds in place before the project could be approved. KCC obtained an estimate for replacing gates and sluices of anything from £150k to £500k, from simple to a full like-for-like replacement. In July, Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan was passed at referendum after extensive campaigning by Faversham Creek Trust. 

2018 KCC cancelled BSG meetings until 28/06/18 (9 months gap). At this meeting they said they had obtained a new legal opinion and were in communication with Peel Ports regarding ownership and responsibility issues. They anticipated this would take 3-4 months and the BSG would meet again in the autumn.  In October, the BSG meeting was told by KCC that the total costs now exceeded £2.5m. Some items had not been estimated before (eg 125 year costs), others had escalated dramatically with no explanation. The ‘Where Is Our Bridge?’ campaign group organised a meeting with Leader of KCC, CIIr Paul Carter, at St Mary of Charity Parish Church, at which he confirmed his commitment as Project Lead to achieve a replacement bridge over Faversham Creek. 

2019 In November, a meeting was held at KCC lead by Paul Carter with KCC’s Director of Highways, FTC and The Faversham Society and Faversham Creek Trust. Discussions with Peel Ports were progressing slowly. Design work and preliminary estimates on a new Dutch-style bridge, sluices and dredging of creek and basin were progressing with a new team in place. A likely completion date was given as early 2021. Paul Carter stepped down as leader of Kent County Council. 

2020 Helen Whately MP for Faversham and Mid-Kent convened a meeting of the BSG with representatives from KCC, FTC, The Faversham Society and FCT. KCC reported the abutments to be less capable of bearing the weight of a new bridge than had been hoped. Design work continued for the bridge gates and sluices in preparation for tendering. Robert Courts MP, the Maritime Minister, had still not received a reply to his letter from Peel Ports. Helen met the previous Maritime Minister, Kelly Tolhurst MP, who agreed to raise this with Peel Ports. 

2021 In December, a further meeting of the BSG began with an update on the legal advice obtained by FTC. It said the Secretary of State has the power to issue an Abatement Notice under section 43 of the Medway Ports Act 1973 to compel the party with obligations to maintain this bridge, sluice gates and associated works to permit navigation again. The Town Council wrote to the Secretary of State for Transport asking him to issue this notice. Money currently pledged by Kent County Council, Swale Borough Council, and Faversham Town Council and raised from the community by the Faversham Creek Trust, is not enough to cover the cost of restoring the bridge. A contribution from Peel Ports was to be sought. KCC confirmed that the Faversham community funding is safely held in a separate account except where individual donors have requested and received their donations back. Kent County Council is helping the Town Council to provide the Department of Transport with further information about the bridge and creek.  

2022 A creek working group was formed by FTC. A consultation with various local stakeholders was convened by Antony Hook in June. Faversham based Liberal Democrat peer, Lord Palmer, raised a question in the House of Lords regarding the situation concerning the bridge to Baroness Vere, Maritime Minister. Follow-up correspondence with her brought frustrating responses citing the complexity of the matter as the reason for lack of progress. In September 2022, a new Director of Highways & Transportation for KCC, Haroona Chugtai, took up her post, moving from the Department for Transport (DfT). For over three years until June 2020, she had been the Deputy Director of Maritime Trade at the DfT and earlier in her career led the implementation of the new marine licensing system. Her knowledge of the workings of the maritime sector and the DfT has proven invaluable in seeking a fresh approach to engaging both the DfT and Peel Ports in finding a resolution to the matter of the Creek Bridge.  

2023  Baroness Vere was replaced as Parliamentary Under Secretary for State by Lord Davies of Gower. A law graduate and former police officer with the Metropolitan Police, he has already met with Helen Whately and Kelly Tolhurst, MP for Rochester, who is taking a keen interest in Peel Ports’ activities at Chatham Docks. Following their meetings, Helen Whately convened a meeting with the key local groups to discuss his proposal. What follows is a summary of that meeting:  

“On Friday 23 February 2024 Helen Whately MP convened a meeting with representatives of KCC, Faversham Town Council, the Faversham Society, the Faversham Creek Trust and the Department for Transport to discuss next steps for the Faversham Bridge following Helen’s recent meeting with the Maritime Minister, Lord Gower. The Minister has advised Helen that the Department for Transport cannot issue an abatement notice until the ownership of the various elements of the bridge has been established beyond reasonable doubt. Both KCC and Peel Ports have submitted their evidence regarding ownership for the DfT to examine. However, the evidence is not sufficiently clear-cut in the DfT’s view for the Department to be able to take action without opening the possibility of legal redress by either party. The DfT is not in a position to rule on disputes of property ownership as it does not have the standing of a court. Therefore, the issue of ownership needs to be established first before deciding whether an abatement notice can or needs to be issued. The Department for Transport official told the meeting that they have been investigating how to solve the impasse for Faversham’s swing bridge for three years. He explained that abatement notices are designed for navigational impediments to force the owner to remove any blockages or barriers (not necessarily to replace or improve them), therefore simply issuing an abatement notice could lead to the bridge being demolished which would clearly pose a problem for the road across it. The Minister has suggested an arbitration process between the relevant parties to resolve the question of ownership, which would be led by a KC (King’s Counsel) with maritime expertise. The KC would consider the positions of both parties and make a decision that each party would agree to accept as binding. Kent County Council believe this is a prudent way forward although they recognise it is not without challenges and would want to be sure it has the support of local campaigners and Faversham Town Council as there are risks involved. The understanding is that Peel Ports is also interested to resolve the issue of the Faversham Bridge although it is not a high priority for them. The next steps are to seek formal agreement for a way forward between KCC, the Town Council and local campaigners and then secure agreement from Peel Ports to this approach. If successful, both parties would then agree a process for selection and appointment of the KC.” 



Faversham Creek Trust