Are we nearly there yet?

This weekend is the first anniversary of the launch of the Visions of a Creek blog and Facebook page. Many thanks to all who have contributed.

During the year, we’ve had the Visions of Creek film; the Neighbourhood Plan “Illustrations Exhibition” and the responses to it; another successful Festival of Sail; meetings of the Neighbourhood Plan steering group being opened to the public for the first time; the expansion of the steering group to include representatives of some associations and community groups; the formation of the Brents Community Association and its plans for a creekside community centre and boatyard; the formation of a KCC-led working group which might at last get something done about the bridge; the official opening of the renovated Purifier Building by the Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports, and the training of the first apprentices; alternative proposals put forward for the Neighbourhood Plan; the production of a business case for boat repairing activities on the Creek; a plethora of planning procedures for Standard Quay and the former coach depot site; and a bit of a flood …

Coming up, we have the first attempt to draft the Neighbourhood Plan for consultation in May/June; Faversham Town Council challenging KCC’s decision on the controversial ZF5 footpath at a judicial hearing in May, which should finally settle the dispute one way or the other; and promises that the Environment Agency will be talking to local residents and others about options for flood defences.

The Visions of a Creek initiative was triggered by people frustrated by what they saw as years of “nonsultation” – of consultations without real choices; of responses being ignored; of decisions being made behind closed doors. Over the past year, there have certainly been changes for the better. A wider range of voices is being heard. But still, there’s a difference between being heard and being listened to.

“We are where we are” has been a recurring catchphrase in debates about the Neighbourhood Plan. Are we still there, or have we moved on? What do you think?

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