This blog was launched in 2013 amid growing concerns about the future of Faversham Creek. Three years on, we’re still talking about the Creek and what it means to the town. But things are moving on.
The independent examiner of the controversial Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan concluded that it did not meet the legal requirements as it stood, but could do so if a number of modifications were made. These modifications addressed some of the major concerns of those who had questioned the original plan, particularly in terms of preserving maritime heritage and employment. The modified plan can now go forward to referendum, with a provisional date of 20 October 2016 – just over five years since the first meeting of the plan’s steering group, making this possibly the longest gestation for any neighbourhood plan.
UPDATE: The gestation period will now be even longer, since a dissatisfied landowner has applied for permission to bring a judicial review. Swale Borough Council is defending the claim, and is deferring the referendum until the outcome is known.
Meanwhile, a lot of practical progress has been made. After years of stalemate, a group led by Kent County Council is getting on with the project to replace the Creek bridge. A fundraising campaign by local community groups raised £125,000 to fill the gap between the cost of an opening bridge and what the local authorities said they may be willing to pay – a powerful demonstration of popular enthusiasm for an opening bridge and bringing the Creek basin back to life.
Shipwright training is in progress at the Purifier Building, along with other maritime activities. The Faversham Creek Navigation Company has been set up for maintenance dredging, and has been working on the basin, though this has stopped for the summer to avoid harm to nesting birds. The Environment Agency, KCC, Swale and Southern Water are working on flooding and drainage problems. And Faversham’s new mayor, Shiel Campbell, has emphasised the value of the Creek to the town, and has made the Faversham Creek Trust the official mayor’s charity.
This is not the end of the story, but it may be the start of a new chapter.
This website is an independent initiative by Faversham residents. It is not associated with any organisation and is open to comment from anyone with an interest in the Creek, whatever their views.
In addition to the website, a film Visions of a Creek was produced in 2013, based on interviews with members of the public who were concerned about what was happening with the Creek, in particular the development of the Neighbourhood Plan. Some clips can be seen on the website. The film had four free public showings at various community venues and is available on DVD. It was accused of “inaccuracies” by some of those associated with the development of the Neighbourhood Plan, but no such inaccuracies have ever been substantiated.
We would love to bring our Barge back to Faversham but would like to purchase a bit of the river bank or quay. This way we know we can stay and make it look good.
We should stop the ‘Yes we did’ ‘No we didn’t’ over consultation. I am a Faversham resident and have found both Councils to be poor communicators. The responsible action should be to acknowledge the general perception of poor-consultation and react to this, for example, as a start, by inviting comments and views by means of a website such as this.
We need to remember the towns which have lost their historic roots and identities to become clones of eachother. How amazingly fortunate to be in a position to revive a rare maritime heritage, the heart of which is still beating and, with some intensive care, can live again. We can deliberately throw away this authentic inheritance and be the generation which cloned Faversham, or we can save and develop its distinctive character. We have all inerited the gift of our beautiful mediaevil Abbey Street from those who had the future in mind. The Creek is this generation’s Abbey Street
Yes, but the Creek isn’t just about maritime heritage. You can’t just ossify the past: things move on and times change: this is what has happened to the Creek throughout its history. The trick is to marry successfully the old and the new. Go along to the exhibition on 7-8 June and complete the questionnaires there or on a dedicated website that is being set up.
But do make sure that if the question does not give you anything other than outcomes that you don’t want, explain that somewhere on the questionnaire and make a record of your reply with your phone.
I am not a resident of Faversham, but I work here and, as a part of my job, work closely with the local community. The neighborhood plan represents a disproportionate minority of people, and I do not feel are in the best interests of Faversham as a town, community or heritage site. Why spend more money on developing a new tourism attraction, such as food, when the town already boasts a wonderful and unique attraction, the creek?! Or better still, why can’t we have both?
Emma I think we can. But go and see Mike Maloney’s film especially the bit with John Sell explaining the Neighbourhood Plan. There are 13 sites around the creek. Each can apply for planning permission if they want to individually. The neighbourhood plan is a way to manage this. Given the new national planning guielines it is seen as a way of giving some safeguards to parts of the creek and getting some of the things that people want. Go the exhibiton on June 8th and have a look and comment.
Next year there will be a referendum for all Faversham residents who can vote to say yes or no. So the final say will depend on a majority vote.
Such a shame Swale lacks the foresight and fortitude of Thanet council which used its compulsory purchase powers to buy Margate’s historic Dreamland park from property developers. A judge just threw out the developers’ appeal and the site can now become an £11 million, lottery-funded heritage amusement park with authentic vintage rides etc. Imagine what the creek could look like today if SBC hadn’t dismissed calls for the compulsory purchase of Standard Quay three years ago.
The answer to the compulsory purchase idea, when I posed it, was ‘we can’t’. My Mother used to say ‘there is no such word as can’t’. I do wish she had been able to have a word with our creative, caring planners.
I have read with interest the postings on this site, and couldn’t help but notice the suspicious and negative tone of some of the participants to the set up of this forum. This really worries me. Social media is a fantasic vehicle for engaging people in debates and is accessible to many more people than the old style consultation processes like workshops and exhibitions etc. It is the way forward and cannot be ignored or dismissed, but instead needs to be embraced. Anything that means more people have a say over the future of the place where they live and work needs to be welcomes. So thank you to those who have had teh vission to set this up. It is actually the first time I have been moved to voice my voice in a consultation process, so that has to be a good thing doesn’t it. For me and my friends and family it seems obvious that Faversham’s maritime past is the key to securing it’s future as a vibrant and unique place. You only need to look at Whitstable to see what the working harbour there has done for it – it is the lifeblood of its regeneration. We can have the same success in Faversham I am sure if we embrace our maritime heritage and breathe life into the creekside once again….making it a living, working creek. I would love my own children to see Thames barges using the creek again and for then to see and feel what made Faversham the place it is….as generations of my own family have seen in the past.
Each compulsory purchase is every different. Much depends upon who owns the land/building and what legal process is required to achieve the objective, and of course the money required to buy the asset and fund the case.
Curently HSR2 and extension of Standstead airport show the difficulties.
It is easier if both parties can agree and costs and risk can be managed.
The legal process puts considerable store on ownership, but in the Dreamland case developers were proposing to redevelop the site
Thank you for response, Hilary.
I’m sorry if I’m being unduly suspicious but I have to say that I remain sceptical about the motives underlying this website and Mike Maloney’s film. If someone really wants to promote an open debate on this website, including apparently encouraging the participation of people like me who are involved in some way (very limited in my case) in the process, it’s not an auspicious start to set up a ‘loaded’ poll question. To ask people if they have been consulted when you know very well that town-wide consultation, however imperfect, has taken place (and that much more is planned) just smacks of a not-very-hidden agenda. Similarly, the reference to asking those ‘who haven’t been consulted what they think’. I suppose we are going to be told in due course that X% of people say that they weren’t consulted. Virtually meaningless but a useful ‘sound bite’ no doubt if you want to criticise the consultation process.
Then there is the statement that ‘politicians, planners and property developers’ are putting forward their vision of the future, with the implication that others aren’t. In practice the newspapers and meetings have been dominated for years by the voice of those focused wholly or mainly on the Creek’s maritime heritage/industry/barges/Standard Quay etc. (One of the delicious ironies of this whole business is that many of those most actively campaigning against ‘property developers’ live very contentedly in houses built by….property developers!)
Then there is the reference on the ‘Neighbourhood Plan’ page which says that ‘When it [the Neighbourhood Plan] has been drawn up, there will be a consultation period…’ Yet again, a ‘slanted’ account, ignoring the fact that consultation has been taking place well before any draft Plan has been produced – and of course the fact that there will be several formal consultation periods once a draft is produced. I’m afraid that remarks of this kind simply make one suspect that this is an attempt by the same group of people to promote their familiar agenda by dressing it up as the views of people who haven’t been heard!
As for the film that’s being made, I hope Mike can muster a bit more objectivity than he’s managed so far in the debate on footpath ZF5. His very selective use of facts in that context demonstrates what can happen even to a documentary film-maker when personal interest takes precedence. And the fact that he’s been trying to frustrate one of the key objectives of the emerging Neighbourhood Plan – a Creek-side footpath – doesn’t inspire confidence either in the film’s eventual ‘message’.
Partly for this reason, I still think it would be useful to know who else is involved in this initiative. Is anyone else going to have any ‘say’ in who’s interviewed, for example, or in contributing to the script? You’d be quick to ask about this if the Steering Group had commissioned a film about the Neighbourhood Plan! It would be good to know what their backgrounds are and whether they too have got a personal interest in the outcome or are known to be linked with a particular interest or pressure group. Reading a list of people who’ve posted on the website is not the same thing.
You don’t need to be engaged in the media business to know that communicating with people – and especially trying to get their active participation – is extremely difficult and it has to be tried over and over again, using different methods. Any politician or policy-maker will have the same experience. The Steering Group is well aware that what’s happened so far is inadequate, though certainly better recently. (I declare an interest here since, as I’m sure you’re aware, I’m married to the Town Clerk!) There is still more than 12 months to go to the planned referendum. If you think you know how to achieve successful community engagement, why not put your suggestions to Jackie Westlake? That might be more productive than lots of letters to the papers criticising the people involved and the process.
I’m perfectly aware that not everyone has a residents’ association: I simply cited the workshop experience as evidence that some attempt had been made to reach out to a wider community and the (obvious) fact that you don’t always get a response when you do. (It will be interesting to see if this website attracts anyone other than what Griselda Mussett would call the ‘usual suspects’.) You suggest using 21st century technology. There is a huge amount of information already available on various websites but not everyone has internet access, so you do have to find other ways of communicating directly with individuals such as exhibitions and mail shots. On that point, I thought your and Chris Berry’s reaction to artist’s sketches was disappointingly negative: if an exhibition took place without some form of pictorial representation, I’m sure that lots of people would have criticised the Steering Group for not providing any!
Re the membership of the Steering Group, aren’t you being rather dismissive of the huge knowledge which, for example, Andrew Osborne, Mike Cosgrove and Anne Salmon have of the Creek and maritime matters?
I hope you’re right about people’s knowledge of the NPPF and the need for a Neighbourhood Plan but that’s not my impression from attending meetings and reading comments in the newspapers and elsewhere. I think relatively few people have grasped the fact that a draft Neighbourhood Plan has to be passed by an independent planning inspector before it can go to a referendum.
If you’ve got views about viable alternatives to proposals in the Plan, why not put them forward to the Steering Group?
I’m not a member of the Steering Group, so I don’t know all the ‘ins and outs’ of the evidence base it’s been accumulating but I find it hard to square your and Chris Berry’s demands for more and more reports with your constant criticism of the cost of preparing a Neighbourhood Plan.
Chris Wright and other Trust colleagues have done a fantastic job in assessing options and costs for an opening bridge. But it was the much-criticised Consortium which forced KCC to focus on the bridge. In its response to the Fullwoood Report it identified the critical importance of the Inner Basin and of having an opening bridge. It also pressed KCC to undertake inspections of the bridge. Would that we had all been as successful in influencing Medway Ports/Peel Ports – although the introduction of automatic sluicing was again the result of Consortium pressure – but that bit of the story isn’t finished yet.
You must surely be aware that the Steering Group isn’t in a position to commit funds to the extra cost of an opening bridge! As its name implies, it is simply a steering group reporting to the Town Council, which would have to make any decision to contribute to funding. But, given that the Town Council’s annual budget is only just over £200k, the solution to any substantial shortfall in funding won’t lie there. No doubt the Steering Group will have in mind those bodies and individuals who might be able to make much more significant contributions.
The problem with the 2008 Plan is that the world has moved on in the meantime and it no longer reflects reality or anything that’s likely to be realised. Those writing the Plan clearly envisaged (or, perhaps more accurately, hoped) that most of the remaining Creek sites would be used for employment purposes, notwithstanding that a number had been redundant for some time. That hasn’t happened. Indeed, as everyone knows, barge repair work has moved from Standard Quay to Oare Creek. In the meantime too the planning framework has changed, so that any Neighbourhood Plan that is wholly anti-housing – as some people seem to advocate – wouldn’t be passed. So, it’s a question of coming up with a Plan that is realistic and deliverable. ‘Deliverable’ means what it says. Of course, things other than housing can be ‘delivered’ but you do have to show how it could be done – and if you don’t own the land in question it makes sense to talk to the people who do own it and, if possible, reach agreement with them.
For the avoidance of doubt, I should make it clear that the views here are my own, not necessarily those of the Faversham Creek Consortium.
Oh come on, Brian! “Have you been consulted?” is hardly a loaded question! And no-one is putting any spin on it – it’s open for anyone to view the results.
If you’re looking for an example of a loaded question and skewed interpretation, how about the Neighbourhood Plan exhibition in May 2012, asking “would you prefer employment only, housing only or mixed development” – with no other choices (eg, “no development” or “public amenity”) offered, and with information panels strongly suggesting that employment-only is not a realistic option – then using the feedback to claim that “most people in Faversham are in favour of mixed development”? If you go through the detailed responses and do the stats, you’ll find that three quarters of those who ticked the ‘mixed development’ box added serious caveats, while others opted for employment only, refused to accept any of the options, or did not comment at all. If it is the case that nearly 1000 people came through the doors, only about 3% were unreservedly in favour of mixed development, which is hardly a ringing endorsement.
Viable alternatives do exist – but where are the opportunities for people to put them forward? Where is the evidence that they will be taken seriously? All we are ever invited to do is comment on a narrow range of predetermined options. The Neighbourhood Plan is based on the Fullwood report and there is no evidence that other options have been invited or examined. Alternatives were put forward to Fullwood but are not even mentioned in his report.
Just telling us over and over again that we’ve been consulted doesn’t make it true! And you tell us “much more is planned” – but the steering group says that the June exhibition is likely to be the last time that options are presented to the public.
I know that communicating with people and getting them to participate ain’t easy – but that is the steering group’s job, and it should have given it much greater priority, instead of putting it on the back burner and trying to do it on a shoestring. This plan is costing over £100K of public money, but not much of it is being spent on the public – where’s it all going?
Also in terms of cost, we’re not asking for ‘more and more reports’. If there is indeed an evidence base, it should be a matter of public record, and if it’s on record then it shouldn’t cost much to make it public.
I think you underestimate the reach – and power – of electronic media, especially with younger people. Mailshots and exhibitions may be useful too, but they’re not enough; they are too infrequent and too inflexible, and they smack of marketing, promotion and selling, which is not what this is supposed to be about. And with exhibitions, as you point out, people may expect to see pictures – but what’s the point of pictures if they are misleading? I’m still waiting for somebody to answer the question about whether the Neighbourhood Plan can or can not specify anything other than land use.
And there are other ways of getting through to people. For example, there ought by now to be a sizeable database of contact details for people who have attended various events and been asked to give their names and email addresses – these are people who have taken the trouble to show up and demonstrate an interest. Why aren’t the contact details used to keep them informed and provide feedback? The only response I’ve ever had was an email from the consultancy group associated with the 2020 project, who used my email address to try and sell me something.
You criticise people for writing to the papers, and ask why we don’t put forward suggestions to your missus and to the steering group. This is the reason: Chris and I have been writing to various bodies through the official channels for YEARS, with detailed, structured and carefully thought out comments – sometimes critical, but also with plenty of positive ideas and suggestions.
We responded to early meetings of the Creek Consortium, to the Urban Initiatives report, to the Fullwood report, to the Neighbourhood Plan exhibition and to many other events. And every time we got ZERO response, ZERO feedback. It was like talking to a black hole.
We don’t expect people to agree with everything we say, but we do expect the courtesy of some feedback. If you keep on treating people like that, eventually you will alienate them, and they will start finding other ways to communicate.
You question the motives of this website, and refer to it as “apparently” encouraging the participation of people like you – why “apparently”? You ARE participating, your comments are posted and you get responses – which is more than we’ve ever got from the official communication channels. I don’t think there’s anything in the website posts that isn’t evidence-based; responses from other people are their own opinions. Councillors and steering group members have been personally invited to participate – whether they choose to do so is up to them.
Speaking for myself and Chris, we have no hidden agenda and no vested interests. I concede that we do live in a house, which may have been built by a property developer, but that was in the 1840s, so not a live issue today.
I’ll leave it to others to comment on the maritime expertise and interests of the steering group members, on your remarks about the 2008 plan and the demise of the barge repair businesses, and on film-making – though in the latter I would point out that Swale Borough Council commissioned a film about localism, including the Neighbourhood Plan, and it honestly never occurred to me to question who was to be interviewed, what was to be said or who was to exercise editorial control! I merely watched the film and drew my own conclusions.
Poll question: Oh, come on, Hilary! As a writer, you’re a sophisticated user of words and will know very well that there is a significant difference between asking someone whether they’ve been consulted (fact: everyone has been and will be several times more, even if they have chosen/will choose not to respond) and whether they feel they’ve been consulted adequately (opinion: they may feel that they have not been consulted even though they have been). Hard to see what’s the value in ‘viewing the results’, whatever that means for a crude poll of this kind, when the question starts off on a false premise. As for ‘spin’, let’s see how the result of the poll is used!
Neighbourhood Plan exhibition: Perhaps those organising the exhibition chose, very sensibly, not to mislead people by offering them unrealistic options (e.g. ‘no housing’) which would not pass muster in a Neighbourhood Plan for the Creek? It’s great that you’re able to analyse the exhibition responses – well done, Swale BC, if very belatedly, for getting the info out there.
Viable options etc: I wasn’t involved with any of the previous reports/consultation processes, so I’m not responsible for what did or did not happen. Nor, consequently, am I in a position to defend what was done or not done. I do know, however, that the next 12 months is ‘make or break’ in terms of whether we have a Neighbourhood Plan for the Creek or whether we just deal with the consequences of ad hoc planning applications against the framework of the NPPF. So, if you think you’ve got viable options to put forward, I’m afraid that, whatever may have happened in the past, you have to put them to the Steering Group if you want them to be considered as part of the current process. But they do have to be realistic.
Consultation/communications: I think most people in Faversham will be heartily sick of the amount of consultation/communication that’s going to take place over the next 12 months on the Neighbourhood Plan. I suspect it will be only the relatively small group of ‘Creek obsessives’ – in which group I include myself – who might want more. Again, if you’ve got specific suggestions, why don’t you put them forward to the Steering Group? You seem to want it both ways, though: constantly asking for more to be spent on things and constantly complaining about the cost.
Website: I explained my reservations about the poll question/home page. To me, the flavour isn’t one of a genuinely neutral ‘forum’ for people to express their views. It starts off from the premise that people haven’t been asked what they think, that it’s only ‘politicians, planners and property developers’ who’ve been able to express their views etc. The impression given is that what you’re really seeking is for people to respond by saying ‘yes, you’re absolutely right – no one is consulting us!’ It would have been more helpful and more balanced to have encouraged people to start by finding out what neighbourhood planning is about and what can and cannot be done through the process before asking them to state their ‘vision’ for the Creek. A bit more focus on what is actually achievable is what is really needed in my view: we are not short of ‘visions’.
If the website isn’t meant to be a ‘neutral’ forum, then drop the pretence that it is and front it is a ‘campaigning’ website promoted by those who don’t like what’s happened so far on the Neighbourhood Plan/ don’t want new housing/are almost exclusively interested in maritime-related industry etc.
Picking up the employment issue, I understand that within the creek plan footprint there are currently some 500 people employed, about 40 in directly related maritime activities notably at Iron Wharf, 4 at Wilkinsons. The 3 big emplyers are Sheps, Morrisons and B M Weston 50 years ago there were a similar number but many more in small businesses.For example there were shops and a garage in west Street, and carpenters and enginers along Belvedere, Goldings was a storage yard. The Cement works and agrigarnos also existed. SECOS oil depot and of course the tail end of Pollocks. On Standard Quay there were a number of business including fencing and building.
Brian, thank you for participating on here. I wish other members of organisations involved in shaping the Faversham Neighbourhood Plan did too.
My first thought as I was reading your post was to wonder why your reaction is to criticize the ‘Visions of a Creek’ initiative? And why being suspicious? There is nothing hidden in there, people are mentioned in the About section and names are published in posts.
Instead – if you really are concerned about engaging with residents – then you should welcome this.
The motives of this website/blog are quite clear. It’s a debate that it is seeking. That suggests different opinions being expressed, and that’s fine. It appears that many residents are unhappy with how the Neighbourhood Plan situation is being handled. So why not accepting it and dealing with it? Why ignoring these views that are being expressed? Why not listening? And most importantly doing something about it?
As quite a few people have observed recently there is indeed a democracy deficit in Faversham. It’s just obvious to me. Democracy is about letting everyone speak and understanding that all opinions have the same value. If it’s not the same as yours, you don’t have to get suspicious. The price of democracy in Faversham is that the town may be shaped in a way that you think is not the right one. Well, I am sorry but if it is the choice of the majority, then that’s it. The important thing is to actually want to listen as many people as possible so you do find out what the majority wants.
So I find it quite wrong to unwelcome a public forum that is asking for debate.
I have been living in Faversham for about 10 years, and the level of consultation of the residents has been very little indeed. I am not saying it is an easy and quick task, but a leaflet is certainly not the only way, and possibly not the most efficient. It certainly is a very passive one. People need to be explained things and then motivated to engage with whatever you are doing. It needs active consultation. This is not happening at the moment.
Brian, your idea of what constitutes consultation is clearly very different from mine and that of many other people (including Locality, the government-appointed agency that produced guidelines to neighbourhood planning). If you read their meeting minutes back to November 2011, you’ll see that the steering group itself has long been conscious of its failings in this respect. As for the number of upcoming consultations, the issue here is quality rather than quantity.
In terms of the May 2012 exhibition, I don’t think an 8-month delay in publishing the feedback deserves congratulation. And it’s not about whether I can analyse the results, it’s whether the steering group has done so and incorporated them into the plan. From meeting minutes, which is all we have to go on, there is no evidence that it has.
I don’t hold you responsible for things that went on in the past that you weren’t involved in, but since you admit to knowing nothing about them, perhaps you might show a little more respect for the opinions of those who do! And people DO have other options they would like to put forward – but HOW? Steering group meetings are not open to the public, minutes are published far too late, agendas not published at all, public input to town council meetings is not recorded. And – in contrast to this website, which you repeatedly criticise – input and debate are not invited.
Yet again you cast doubt on this site as a forum for open debate, while paradoxically undermining your own case! The classical debating process begins with a proposition (“this house believes …”) which is rarely neutral and often deliberately provocative. Debaters are free to argue for or against, to add information or to introduce other ideas.
A quick and brief response since I’m away for a few days.
As you say, the Steering Group has acknowledged that past communication and consultation hasn’t been good enough. There is still a year to go.
As I’ve said before: write to the Secretary to the Steering Group if you’ve got views you want to put forward. Ask for a meeting.
I’ve set out clearly already my reservations about the ‘angle’ which the website comes from.
In the interests of openness, please tell us who the Faversham residents are who have set up this ‘independent initiative’. Then we can perhaps better judge whether they have any vested interest in the outcome of the debate on the Neighbourhood Plan.
The ‘blurb’ about the website doesn’t encourage confidence in its objectivity, I’m afraid. To imply that there are Faversham residents who have not been asked for their views is simply factually incorrect. Everyone has had an opportunity already, through the exhibition in May 2012, to express views and there will be a number of other opportunities in coming months as consultation on the Neighbourhood Plan intensifies. Of course, you can always improve communications but there is no doubt that the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group is trying hard to do that.
To pick up Hilary Whelan’s comments on ‘stakeholders’, my understanding is that three residents’ associations were invited to the November workshop. Only one sent a representative and my recollection is that she said nothing during the entire event. The Faversham Creek Consortium has nine elected members, including Alan Reekie, Bob Berk, Eric Green and Bob Telford. What’s ‘non-inclusive’ about that?
Jill Holder and others need to do a little research on the National Planning Policy Framework – let’s have that as a topic on this website! – and then they might have a better understanding of the background against which the Neighbourhood Plan is being prepared and the consequences if no Plan is agreed. As I’ve said before, those who seem concerned only to encourage a negative view of the Neighbourhood Plan process may well produce precisely the outcome we all want to avoid: development of the Creek through planning appeals won by reference to the NPPF. It’s all very well harking back to a ‘golden age’ but it’s no good coming up with a Plan that is unrealistic and can’t be delivered.
Don’t forget that it was Mike Cosgrove who secured a £400k forward commitment from KCC to the bridge.
It’s good to get a debate going!
As is made clear on this website, it doesn’t set out to be “objective” – its objective is to trigger an open debate. If anyone wants to know who’s behind it, they can read the ABOUT section, and see the names of the people who have contributed comments. Anyone can join in. If the local authorities, or the Neighbourhood Plan steering group, had made the effort to set up an open forum, then this website wouldn’t have been necessary.
Re consultation: it’s naïve to suggest that one flawed exhibition in May 2012 represents an opportunity for everyone to express their views. Come over to the Brents estate, Brian, and ask people there if they think they’ve been consulted. There’s an old expression in the media business: “If they ain’t heard it, you ain’t said it.” The steering group itself repeatedly acknowledges, in the minutes of its meetings, that when it comes to communicating with the public, its performance has been woefully inadequate. Community engagement isn’t showing people stuff and asking for their comments; it should be a continuous feedback loop, building a sense of ownership; making people feel their input is welcomed and valued; showing them how it’s been incorporated – or, if it hasn’t, explaining why not.
Re “stakeholders”: please be aware that not everyone has a residents’ association – in fact, most people in Faversham don’t. Bodies like the steering group seem to be capable of communicating only with other groups, but with 21st century media it should be possible to communicate directly with individuals. (And, if you missed them, comments by the residents’ association representative who attended the stakeholder workshop are recorded in the minutes).
Re the Faversham Creek Consortium: it does not have nine elected members. The Management Group is not the Consortium, though it behaves as if it is. And none of the elected Management Group members listed represents the Consortium on the steering group – it might be useful if they did, since at least some of them have knowledge of maritime matters.
Re the NPPF: people are not so ignorant as Brian Caffarey seems to think. Of course, it wouldn’t be such a problem if Swale had got around to renewing its Local Plan in time for the government’s deadline – or if it hadn’t invited developers in by tweaking the flood risk designation in order to enable development. But we are where we are, and people do understand that we need a Neighbourhood Plan. The question is whether this is the Neighbourhood Plan that we need, and whether viable alternatives have been adequately considered – or, indeed, considered at all.
Re deliverability: there is a presumption that only housing-heavy property development is “deliverable”. Upon what evidence is this based? Has the steering group scrutinised comparative business plans? Has it evaluated long-term projections for the local economy, potential income streams from tourism, etc? With a depressed property market and the likelihood of higher-than-average build costs (access difficulties, flood mitigation, possible decontamination costs, conservation area and listed building constraints, etc.), how demonstrably deliverable are any of the proposals under consideration?
Re the bridge: well done, Mike Cosgrove, fair dos – but let’s also not forget that it was pressure and expertise from the Faversham Creek Trust that triggered the recent focus on the bridge; that KCC has a statutory responsibility for it and would have had to spend money on it anyway, since it is becoming unsafe; and that the Neighbourhood Plan steering group has shied away from any commitment to contribute to the extra cost of an opening bridge.
Re the “golden age”: it was all of five years ago that Swale Borough Council said in its Local Plan: “… levels of new housing have reached the point where further proposals will damage the area and it will now resist them … 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 … risk of flooding … is a further constraint on new housebuilding … before considering whether a development proposal can technically overcome that risk the Council will need to be satisfied that the planning area’s housing land supply cannot be met on sites that are at lesser risk.”
If all this was true in 2008, why is it not true now?
Perhaps Coun Cafferey means Faversham Creek’s ‘golden age’ of ship building and repair, when Standard Quay employed 20 skilled maritime craftsman, trained local apprentices and was a hugely important national centre for historic wooden vessels. You remember, the era that ended in 2011.
Interesting to see Mr Cosgrove promoting ‘eating places’ on the creek the week before his council colleagues vote to turn Standard Quay’s former shipwrights’ shed into a restaurant in the face of massive local opposition.
If anyone is in any doubt about what finished off Faversham’s traditional shipbuilding industry, please watch The Quay at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiOXGHkzZ68
The film free to view and will only take 15 minutes of your time.
Ship builders may come and go on the tide but, once built, houses and restaurants go nowhere.
Yes, it’s an interesting comment, that one, isn’t it? Unwise to disparage ships that come and go on the tide – they’re the reason that Faversham exists in the first place. Shipbuilders, on the other hand, tend to stay on the shore – and to be far less here-today-gone-tomorrow than restaurants – except when they’re driven out by development pressures and ill-thought-out planning decisions.
This was the saddest thing I have seen for a long time. The interview with Mr Cozgrove brought back all the frustration of trying to engage him in how disastrous it would be to lose the traditional industries and use of the Creek. He simply does not appear to listen. I don’t know what drives him. but it certainly is not the wishes of the people of Faversham. He will be remembered. In the future as the man who enabled the destruction of the Creek.
Think the creek is for everyone, from canoes, electric motor boats, to barges, tugs and yachts. Eric and Bob have done some great work sliucing, and Lena Reekie is brilliant and organising the second Festival of Sail. Walkers and families love the creek vistas and eating places. I and others delivered leaflets about last year’s exhibition to every house in Faversham so the word is spreading.
It always feels like such a privilege to be able to be living in Faversham .
With its unique waterways and Historical buildings and markets .
To understand it’s history will help us to Shape its future .
Historically its the industries of faversham that provide employment and still do to this very day .
Just take a look at Greta, Cambria, Henry
And on … !
Working together, our job is simply to preserve it for the next generation .
Cllr Andy Culham
So true! And all the best things have been shaped not by committees but by Faversham people working together. But when it comes to the future of the creek, how CAN we work together, when the groups making the decisions are so non-inclusive, and residents aren’t even regarded as stakeholders?
There needs to be a far better mechanism for people to get actively involved – and we need effective feedback loops, so that people who try to get involved don’t feel they’re banging their heads against a brick wall. People need to feel it’s worth making the effort because they know they’ll be listened to and taken seriously, and that there’s a chance their suggestions might actually be acted upon – or if not, they’ll be given a credible explanation.
Can you help, Councillor Culham?
Interesting that Cllr Culham says ‘industries’ rather than ‘maritime industries’ and doesn’t mention any of the Thames barges which left Standard Quay when the shipwrights were driven out and are now unlikely to return.
Well done for this forum and the opportunity for local residents to have a say and get involved. It’s important. Don’t think it doesn’t matter.
“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”
Was told some stuff, but not asked. Did not much like what I was told as it bore very little relationship to anything I had hoped for. Why oh why should we (or they) be prepared to look at anything that does not protect the historical viability of the creek area? There can be only one answer to that question – money. I am told that hands are tied by the law, but the law is there to protect us all, not just the very few. perhaps we need to change it.
couldn’t agree more
Rejuvenate the creek to provide attractive visitor facilities. And attract visitors tourists walkers artists photographers. Encourage craftsmen and women and local skills to develop in quayside workshops.facilitate moorings for sailing barges unimpeded by yachty pontoons or marina like things. Dredge the creek. Encourage sailing barge owners to run barge trips with free or susidised moorings. Capitalise on heritage and return the port to its former glory. Please??