A development policy for Faversham creekside

Some thoughts on the future development of the Creek – agree or disagree?

As a central component to the historic development of Faversham, the creek remains an important ingredient in its unique character as well as a place of employment, leisure and tourism opportunity. It is an irreplaceable historic asset of great significance.

The area should play an important part in the strategy for the town, whilst preserving and enhancing its historic character. Central to this aim is the retention and encouragement of employment activities, the encouragement of a greater diversity of uses, and for those sites with a frontage to the creek the re-establishment and enhancement of their links and usage of the water channel itself.

House builders and homeowners have found the creekside’s industrial sites an attractive prospect, but these change the character of the area and place pressures – both financial and environmental – on the remaining businesses and vacant sites to follow suit. Such changes to the character of the creekside lead to the loss of diversity of activity and a severance in the old links between the water and waterside uses.

A large part of the area is at risk of flooding. This is a further constraint on new housing development. The creek also forms part of and flows into the Swale SPA and Ramsar Site, an important European site for birds, where significant adverse impacts will need to be avoided.

The vacant site at Ordnance Wharf in Flood Lane is within an area of the town characterised by existing or former industrial uses. Development that would not complement this established character or maintain the historic tradition of activity along the creek should not be permitted. Additionally, the site occupies a key location between the wider more open creek channel to the east and the pond to the west. Visually prominent buildings or structures on this site would visually sever the pond from the rest of the creek and would not be desirable.

As an urgent priority, securing a major user of the creek in its upper reaches will benefit the creek as a whole, and provide an economic and tourism impetus to the wider regeneration of the creek and town.

At Standard Quay the priorities are: safeguarding this historically outstanding enclave of water-related and business activity; encouraging commercial uses that continue to sensitively occupy historic buildings; and promoting new employment uses to occupy appropriate sites, such as that allocated at Standard House. Ensuring that traditional and other vessels continue to have access to the creekside, and that the facilities and services essential to their upkeep are maintained here, is essential.

We didn’t write any of that. It’s taken directly from the Swale Borough Local Plan 2008, describing the council’s policy for Faversham creekside. This document states that:

“The Council considers that levels of new housing have reached the point where further proposals will damage the area and it will now resist them as both contrary to the strategy for the Local Plan and the policy for this AAP. Frontage development not involving active use or management of the creek itself, or that which prevents use of the creek by vessels, should not be permitted.”

“Before considering whether a development proposal can technically overcome the flood risk on the site, the Council will need to be satisfied first that the planning area’s housing land supply cannot be met on sites that are at lesser risk.”

“The Council will look to support proposals to expand and diversify businesses that will enable them to maintain a presence within the town … Where sites may be considered unsuitable for their current or former use, it will normally be the case that an alternative commercial use will be sought by the Council, rather than the site being accepted for housing development.”

“The basin should be used for the mooring, maintenance and use of historic craft for employment/ tourism purposes. These would be focused around land and buildings at Ordnance Wharf, the Purifier building, and the BMM Weston car park (where open space and environmental enhancement should be additionally considered around a retained car park), but could extend onto other wharfage. Housing development would prejudice these proposals and should not be permitted.”

At Standard Quay: “Residential development should not be permitted as it is likely to harm the historic interest of this area, both in terms of the existing buildings, and as a place of commercial activity.”

Why did the Council not follow its own policy? Who made the decision and on what grounds? Who was consulted?

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3 thoughts on “A development policy for Faversham creekside

  1. Brenda

    Why indeed does Swale Borough Council not pay heed to its own policies and statutory plans which the local plan of 2008 is, more specifically AAP2 (Area action plan for Faversham Creek)? This is the question we the public should be demanding of our elected representatives, and in writing – individual complaints/comments carry far more weight than a petition for example.
    The Councils’ Conservation Area Review of 2004 was also very clear about housing development being inappropriate, not least of all for Ordnance Wharf, where most recently the people of Faversham voiced their objections in their hundreds, and the planning application was withdrawn. Why is this Conservation Area review not part of the evidence being put together for the Neighbourhood Plan?
    Also, in 2008 a report entitled Green Clusters, Faversham Creek was made, funded by the Department of Communities and Local Government(incidentally the same Government dept which funds the Neighbourhood Plan), It was part of a study for the whole Thames Estuary and articulated very well what it called A BIG Vision for FAVERSHAM CREEK, with the Bridge operating and the Basin opened up to the Thames and other barges – not for the development of luxury flats for the short term gain of developers.
    What’s so sad about this sorry saga, and in my view a dereliction of duty on the part of Councillors and officers alike, is the complete lack of vision and imagination for the future of Faversham and the creek. Their priority has been to ask the developers what they want in the hopethat what is a small amount of money may be available under a section 106 agreement for a footpath and moorings.
    What sort of legacy is that for Faversham Creek?

    Reply
    1. Jill Holder

      a)It seems to me that all these surveys do nothing more than create jobs for those hired to run them. Every one of them, that I have been able to find has been reneged on.
      b)106 agreements are so often abandoned once developers have got their way that I would never accept an application based on one of these false promises as long as developers are so slippery and our planners so weak.

      Reply

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