Following its report on reactions to Swale councillors giving the go-ahead for the Baltic House wine bar, the Faversham News invited contributions to the debate on the future of Standard Quay. This is one of them:
Your article (Activists’ disgust at council green light for quay bar) unfortunately repeated the description of me as the ‘former owner of Standard Quay’. I can assure you that had I or any of the former directors of Standard Quay (Faversham) Ltd had the opportunity to buy the Quay, we would have done so. Unfortunately, it was bought from under us in 2003 at an inflated price by Quayside Properties (QP) who paid £1.4 million for the whole site (including the the grade II listed Quay buildings, Bus depot and grade 1 listed warehouse).
QP at the time was listed at Companies House as being a company for the development and sale of land. QP issued an immediate notice to quit to the boatyard management company with no negotiation based on a clause in our lease which justified this on the grounds of their intention to redevelop the site. We fought off this threat for the subsequent 8 years refusing to give in to unremitting pressure such as claims for huge rent increases and allegations of neglect of the buildings. QP won one court case against us which argued that the sadly woolly wording of our lease and the smudgy lines on the maps did not allow us to use the Quay land area beyond a very narrow strip alongside the water. Nevertheless, we struggled on at huge legal expense for another year and a half until the end of the lease in summer 2011 when all the buildings were emptied of the boatbuilders, the apprentices, the marine block making and the sail and rigging loft.
Now labelled ‘activists’ and ‘protestors’ I would be grateful if occasionally it could be remembered that before 2011 we were positive contributors to a vibrant Creekside maritime environment at the Quay and demonstrated for eighteen years that There Is Another Realistic Alternative to just becoming yet another town dependent on kitsch and the crumbs dropped from the table of champagne diners. Faversham Creek is a working asset for a working town. Given just a little bit of guts and imagination we could still keep it and stop those who seek to simply profit from what they see as under-priced land ripe for their own gain.
If you have something to add to the debate, you can add a comment here or write to the Faversham News (firstname.lastname@example.org).