Swale Borough Council planners meet on the 11th April to discuss the proposed conversion of Standard Quay’s listed ‘black building’ into a restaurant and gallery and function room.
This gives those of us who want to see Standard Quay reinstated as a functioning centre for sailing barges and other traditional and historic craft just a few days to make our objections.
I’m told the best hope now is likely to be to contact local councillors, focusing on how the proposal meets – or fails to meet – local planning criteria. Read all about that stuff on the Borough Council website. Contact details for each area’s council member can be found using the search gizmo on the site, and I gather we can also write to: email@example.com (the council keeps changing this, not me!).
Sadly, the area planning officer’s report recommends approval on the grounds that previous applications for marine use – sail-making, boat building and repairs – were approved by the council in the 1990s and not taken up, and that it is therefore reasonable to consider other uses for this building.
I think we can take that point, but surely a restaurant is not the only alternative. Further, I’d suggest that what happened 15-20 years ago may not be wholly relevant now, and that what Standard Quay and Faversham Creek as a whole now need is a plan or vision capable of bringing the Creek back to life – not yet more developments such as housing and restaurants that inevitably lead in the opposite direction, as has happened to many small ports around our coast.
(Yes – people really do buy homes next to boatyards, and then object to the work that takes place as a matter of routine. It may seem like bizarre behaviour to you, but I’ve seen it in action.)
Some might see this as a matter of culture and history pitted against profits and employment, but maritime industry can also bring prosperity and jobs.
Faversham Town Council opposes the application, which is great news, and I understand that many other people have declared their opposition to the development, which would effectively end any hope that Standard Quay will again become alive with traditional craft and the noise and bustle involved in their maintenance and use.
PPPS – Here’s what the Medway and Swale Boating Association said in its letter to Swale Borough Council:
I am writing on behalf of over 4000 boaters on the Medway and Swale, including many who keep and use traditional craft in and around Faversham Creek and those like myself who have used the unique marine and leisure services provided there.
We are dismayed that the proposed development at Standard Quay will forever prevent the regeneration of the marine industries such as traditional barge-building, shipwrighting and rigging that have gone on here until very recently. There are many alternative sites for houses, restaurants and car parks but these threatened activities can only exist at the waterside. Traditional skills and employment may be lost, just when there is growing demand for them.
The traditional creekside environment is what gives Faversham its unique character, attracting many people who don’t necessarily engage in boating themselves. The irreversible damage that will be caused caused by this proposal may well have been underestimated.
We therefore strongly object to this proposed development.
Barges at Faversham’s Standard Quay, filmed by local historian, folklorist, author, photographer and BBC radio presenter Simon Evans.
Simon made the film some time before the maritime industries and most of the barges left, and before it became clear that Faversham Creek was likely to become a sad, gentrified and squeaky-clean memory of a port.
To lodge your opposition to this development, go to the website www.ukplanning.com, search for Swale Borough Council, then go to the applications and use the search box to hunt down applications applying to Standard Quay. There are just a few days left to lodge your reasons for objecting to the proposed development.
This is reposted because the deadline for objecting to the plans to gentrify Standard Quay has been put back – there is still time for intheboatshed.net readers to make a difference!
How would you feel, if I told you someone wants to plonk a restaurant right in the middle of the site shown in this photo – and that this would likely be the first step in a redevelopment of the area that could include more restos and cafes, and maybe housing?
Wherever this happens, working boats, sailing barges and the people who work on them come under pressure and generally have to leave. It’s been a blight all round our coast, and most of the boaty working folk have felt driven to leave Faversham’sStandard Quay already.
If like me you feel the planning authorities should take steps to save this historic old quay and return it to its old use as a boatyard and busy wharf, we have just a few days to place our objections to the restaurant plan. Read the background here.
To do so, go to the website www.ukplanning.com, search for Swale Borough Council, then go to the applications and use the search box to hunt down applications applying to Standard Quay. There are just a few days left to lodge your reasons for objecting to the proposed development.
I guess we’ll all have our own objections, and that they will become obvious from reading the documentation. My guess is that some intheboatshed readers might include the planned changes to Building no 1 itself, and perhaps the undeniable fact that establishing a restaurant at this site will be the end of hopes that Standard Quay will again be bustling with traditional craft – which it was until not long ago, before established marine businesses left in a hurry.
Local planners are considering an application to build the residential development shown in this drawing.
In my mind, the description ‘carbuncle’ seems very apt. It’s too big and bulky for the site, the ‘ship-like’ references in the design is in rather poor taste (placing a residential development here will likely contribute to keeping vessels out of the area), and it is not at all in keeping with the commercial and industrial sites all around.
In addition, the Faversham Creek Trust folks say it will compromise the work of their boatbuilding apprentice school by eliminating moorings and because complaints from residents could easily lead to the school having to be closed. The small building behind the proposed flats is the Trust’s school premises.
Trust officials add that the proposed development is in conflict with local planning aims, which commits the authorities to ‘specifically encourage the regeneration of the creek basin for commercial and tourism purposes, including use of the basin and its wharfage for historic craft. Planning permission will not be granted for proposals that would result in the loss of land or buildings suitable for employment uses’.
Faversham Creek urgently needs our help once again.
Readers will remember that a little while ago I appealed to readers to sign a petition calling for action to save Standard Quay as a working boatyard and to retain the business and skills already in place.
Many of those businesses will have moved out by the end of this month, but efforts to protect and improve the Creek are continuing.
This time the threat is a consultant’s report to Swale Borough Council that proposes abandoning important measures that would help maintain the creek as a navigable waterway and would open the door to developers to build more lucrative housing, restaurants and so on.
Known as the Fullwood Report, these proposals are now open for consultation – which means those of us who disagree with its proposals for the area have until the 24th June to tell planners what we think.
While no-one wants the Creek to become a sad unusable ditch, Fullwood seems to have taken the view that developers should be allowed to do their worst because local authorities cannot afford to get involved with expensive projects.
Not everyone agrees with this approach, not least because the Creek has much to offer in terms of both tourism and maritime industry. There are other reasons for optimism also: the Faversham Creek Trust’s campaigners say that ‘just because the Council do not have the funds, does not mean that it cannot be done. This is where not-for-profit organisations such as the Trust, volunteers and the wider society take over’.
Let’s be specific about some of the key points.
Fullwood is weak on the important area at the top of the creek, including the crucially important swing bridge that could allow vessels to use the upper part of the creek, and the sluice, which should be reinstated for its purpose of washing silt down the channel to keep it navigable.
It fails to deal properly with the issue of access to the creek – in some areas in Faversham itself, developers have been allowed to re-route established footpaths away from the creek and to eliminate wharf areas where vessels can moor. This kind of thing must be prevented in future, and where possible footways and mooring facilities must be reinstated.
The report also proposes re-designating areas subject to flooding so that housing can be built upon them if certain criteria are met – for example flats might be built above ground floor business premises. There seems to be some debate about whether Faversham is in need of more housing, but if it is this probably isn’t the right way to provide it. If anyone would like to know how unpopular a council can become when housing projects are allowed and are then affected by suffer flooding, I suggest they ask the people of Lewes.
Yet another problem is that the banks of the creek include some important old buildings – the Hasarde building dating back to the 15th century was used for trading and is now the home of a corps of Sea Cadets, while at Standard Quay there is a magnificent 17th century granary that is currently subdivided for the use of a variety of businesses offering antiques, bric-a-brac, a small garden centre and teas.
The Fullwood Report is available online; please send your comments to Natalie Earl at firstname.lastname@example.org by the 24th.
Also on the subject of Faversham Creek, I’d like to add that a one-hour version of independent film-maker Richard Fleury’s beautifully shot film The Quay is now available online.