Author Archives: Visions of a Creek

Neighbourhood Plan: there will be a public hearing

According to the Swale Borough Council website: “Representations made [on the draft Neighbourhood Plan] have been sent to the independent examiner who has reviewed them. As a result, he has considered that a hearing is necessary.”

It was earlier stated that any hearing (and site visits) would be in the week beginning 5 October, but the website now says: “The date of the hearing is currently been decided. When a date is chosen it will be posted on this [Swale Borough Council’s] website and letters/emails will be sent to all of those who submitted representations to the Regulation 16 consultation.”


Reminder: Creek Consortium meeting on 3 September

There will be a Special Meeting of the Faversham Creek Consortium on Thursday 3 September, 7pm, with a motion to dissolve the Consortium. Details can be seen here and the agenda is here.

Please note the change of venue: the meeting will be at the West Faversham Community Centre.

Anyone who might wish to attend but is unable to do so can send their apologies to the secretary, Brian Caffarey, at

Change of venue for Creek Consortium meeting

The public meeting of the Faversham Creek Consortium on THURSDAY 3 SEPTEMBER at 7pm will now be held in the Youth and Community Room at the WEST FAVERSHAM COMMUNITY CENTRE.

The meeting, arranged “with a view to dissolving the Consortium”, was originally scheduled for the Assembly Rooms, but these will be closed for redecoration and no other suitable town centre venue was available. It will be chaired by the Deputy Chair, Cllr Geoff Wade.

The agenda will appear in due course on the Consortium web page

Neighbourhood Plan: a message from the Independent Examiner

Timothy Jones, the Independent Examiner appointed for the Faverham Creek Neighbourhood Plan, has issued the following guidance and directions relating to the examination process.

Examinations are normally based on written submissions, but if anyone thinks there should be a hearing and/or site visits they should notify Mr Jones before 12.00 noon on Friday 14th August 2015 – see instructions below, item 6. If there is a hearing and/or site visits, they will be in the week beginning Monday 5 October.

Guidance and Directions
1. Swale Borough Council, with the agreement of Faversham Town Council, has
appointed me to examine the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Development Plan (“the
NDP”). I am wholly independent of both councils and to the best of knowledge and belief of
all others involved with the NDP, being a planning barrister based in Birmingham.
2. The principal purpose of the examination is to consider whether the NDP meets the
basic conditions. These are:
(1) having regard to national policies and advice contained in guidance issued by the
Secretary of State, it is appropriate to make the NDP;
(2) the making of the NDP contributes to the achievement of sustainable development;
(3) the making of the NDP is in general conformity with the strategic policies contained
in the development plan for the area of Swale Borough Council (or any part of that area);
(4) the making of the NDP does not breach, and is otherwise compatible with, EU
obligations; and
(5) The making of the NDP is not likely to have a significant effect on a European site
(as defined in the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010) or a European
offshore marine site (as defined in the Offshore Marine Conservation (Natural Habitats,
&c.) Regulations 2007 (either alone or in combination with other plans or projects).
3. I am also required to consider: whether the NDP is compatible with Convention rights
as defined in the Human Rights Act 1998; whether the NDP complies with the provisions
made by or under sections 38A and 38B of the Planning and Compulsory Act 2004; and
whether the area for any referendum should extend beyond the neighbourhood area to which
the NDP relates,
4. The normal rule for neighbourhood planning representations is that they are
conducted by written representations with any site visit being unaccompanied. A public
hearing should be held when the examiner (a) considers that a key issue should be examined
in more depth or (b) to ensure a person has a fair chance to put a case. It is up to the examiner
to decide who is invited to speak.
5. An accompanied site visit may be required where it is necessary to access land that is
not publicly accessible. During an accompanied site visit an examiner should be accompanied
by at least one person from each side of any difference in respect of the land being visited or
viewed. No evidence is given on a site visit. The place to give evidence is though written
representations and, to the extent allowed, at the public hearing.
6. In order to facilitate this process I am issuing the following directions.
(1) The point of contact for all communications with me is Ms Natalie Earl, Senior
Planner, Planning Policy, Swale Borough Council, Swale House, East Street,
Sittingbourne, Kent, ME10 3HT, . No communication
should be sent directly to me.
(2) All communications with me should be in writing, not by telephone or other
oral communication. They will be publicly available documents.
(3) If anybody considers that a public hearing is appropriate, they should notify
me, c/o Ms Earl, in writing no later than 12.00 noon on Friday 14th August 2015
stating the exact topic or topics on which a public hearing is sought, the reasons why
this is sought and who it is suggested should be invited to speak.
(4) If there is to be a public hearing this will take place during the week
commencing Monday 5th October 2015.
(5) If anybody considers that an accompanied site visit is appropriate, they should
notify me, c/o Ms Earl, in writing no later than 12 noon on Friday 14th August 2015
stating the exact location or locations at which an accompanied site visit is sought, the
reasons why this is sought and who they wish to be present.
(6) If there is to be an accompanied site this will take place during the week
commencing Monday 5th October 2015.
Timothy Jones, Barrister,
No 5 Chambers
15th July 2015

Creek Consortium sets September meeting date

From the Faversham Creek Consortium page on the Swale Borough Council website:

“The AGM which was due to take place on 31 March 2015 had to be postponed because the interest was such that the room booked at the Alexander Centre, based on last year’s attendance, wasn’t big enough to accommodate everyone who came to the meeting. The Consortium’s Management Group apologises to all those who came along to the meeting for the inconvenience this caused.

“Subsequently, a motion was received to dissolve the Consortium and to hold a special meeting for the purpose.  The Management Group had itself been intending to propose the dissolution of the Group later in the year since, with the drafting of the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan and with most of the funds secured to build a new swing bridge, most of the Consortium’s original aims are nearing completion.  The Management Group is therefore consulting the appointing bodies and proposes to hold a special meeting to dissolve the Consortium at 7pm on Thursday 3 September 2015 in the Assembly Rooms.”

Car wash planning refusal goes to appeal

An appeal (15/500077/REF) has been lodged with the Planning Inspectorate against Swale Borough Council’s decision to refuse planning permission for a car wash on the former Transport Depot site at Standard Quay. There will not be a hearing; the appeal will be determined on the basis of written representations.

Comments and/or representations already received in relation to this application have been forwarded to the Planning Inspectorate for consideration. Anyone who wants to add to, modify or withdraw their previous representations can contact the Planning Inspectorate by email to: or in writing to 10B Temple Quay House,2 The Square,Temple Quay,Bristol,BS1 6PN. The closing date is 7 JULY 2015.

The Planning Inspectorate’s “Guide to taking part in planning appeals” booklet is available free of charge from the Planning Portal at

The application can be seen here.


Neighbourhood Plan update at Local Engagement Forum

An update by Swale Borough Council on what’s happening with the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood plan is on the agenda for the Faversham Local Engagement Forum, to be held at the Fleur de Lis Heritage Centre, 11 Preston Street, on TUESDAY 9 JUNE.

Other items on the agenda are housing development in Faversham and local health services provision.

After presentations by Swale Borough Council and the NHS South Kent Coast Clinical Commissioning Group, there will be opportunities for questions from members of the public and informal discussion. More details here.


SEA says plan OK – but HRA says no

The long-awaited Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the Faversham Creek Neighbourhood Plan has at last made an appearance – though it took a Freedom of Information request to get it released, and it is not the final version; there are apparently still some ‘typos’ to be corrected.

Under European law, an SEA is required for a neighbourhood plan when initial ‘screening’ indicates that the plan may have significant environmental effects (in this context, environmental does not just refer to the natural environment, but includes broader issues such as social and cultural). Since Swale Borough Council had determined as long ago as 2008 that a development plan for the Faversham Creek area would require an SEA, and had drawn up a ‘scoping’ document saying what the SEA should evaluate, it was a legal requirement for the Neighbourhood Plan to have one.

The government’s Planning Practice Guidance explains the process and shows (para 033) how the SEA should be prepared alongside the plan, so that the environmental impact of different options can be compared and used to inform the development of the plan. The SEA, along with a non-technical summary, is then to be put out to consultation alongside the draft plan. In practice, the SEA played no part in the development of the plan, and it is not clear how its production five months after publication, and with no consultation, fits into this process.

There is no comparison of the relative environmental impact of alternative options for individual sites or areas. The only ‘reasonable alternatives’ considered are those put forward at the first consultation in 2012: all housing, all employment, or mixed – plus a fourth (‘Maximising housing and employment numbers’) which is said to have been one of the options in the consultation, but was not.

Can these seriously be considered as the ‘reasonable alternatives’? Virtually every land use development plan contains a mix of uses; the true options are what, where and how much – that is the whole point of having a plan.

In setting out (Section 12) the Town Council’s reasons for its ‘preferred approach’ in the face of public opposition, the report asserts that the public unreasonably wanted ONLY industrial use for boatbuilding and repair and the exclusion of ALL residential use, and that this would not have been sustainable. This is, to put it politely, a gross misrepresentation, given that alternatives were repeatedly put forward that included a variety of land uses, including residential and other forms of employment, but with a different distribution, and the council chose not to consider them.

The opening paragraph of the report states that it was commissioned by Swale Borough Council in support of the Neighbourhood Plan – ie, a post-hoc justification of the finished product, rather than an evaluation of the least environmentally-damaging options. Not surprisingly, given this brief, it manages to identify positive effects for the plan against many criteria. Some of the  claims made are questionable (eg, that the ‘proposed use’ of Iron Wharf as a boatyard would have a ‘significant positive effect’ on employment and skills – this seems unlikely, since it is already a boatyard, and keeping it as a boatyard would be neither positive nor negative).

What this document cannot do is determine whether a different set of policies and land use distribution would have been more or less beneficial.

Buried in the middle of the report (Section 16.1.2), however, is the information that a Habitat Regulations Assessment (HRA) – a separate document, also legally required because of the potential impact on the Swale SPA and Ramsar site – says the plan as it stands would have negative environmental effects, and recommends amendments that would be needed to mitigate these effects. The SEA concludes that unless and until these recommendations are accepted and incorporated, the Neighbourhood Plan would have a significant NEGATIVE effect on biodiversity.

The recommendations are not known since the HRA report has not been made public.









Creek Consortium: dis-appointing?

The secretary and chair of the Faversham Creek Consortium have excused themselves from writing to ordinary members who signed a resolution to dissolve, and from paying room hire for a meeting to vote on the resolution, on the grounds that the Consortium has no funding.

This is what it says about funding in the constitution: “The running expenses of the Consortium and the Management Group will be provided by contributions from the Appointing Bodies (subject to agreement) and other donations that may be received from time to time. The amount of the contributions from the Appointing Bodies shall be agreed at the start of each financial year.”

It goes on to say that the monies will be held on behalf of the Consortium by Swale Borough Council, and that a report on annual income and expenditure shall be submitted for approval at each Annual General Meeting.

Why has none of this been done? Can anyone remember having seen a financial report at an AGM? There is certainly no mention of one in the minutes for 2012, 2013 or 2014.

The Appointing Bodies, which each appoint one member of the management group, are Swale Borough Council (Mike Cosgrove), Faversham Town Council (Nigel Kay) and Faversham Municipal Charities (Andrew Osborne). All the other members of the group are elected or co-opted.

If the Appointing Bodies are appointing members, should they not be providing funding? If they are not providing funding, should they be entitled to appoint members? Who is appointing these three people, and where are the appointments minuted? Or are they appointing themselves, year after year?